One of my literal homes away from home is Sweet Chick. The original location, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is most definitely somewhere I go so often that I’ve eaten everything on that menu several times over. My extraordinarily cool and creative colleagues, a New York City-based collective known as The Good Life (led by photographer Craig Wetherby), were doing their legendary family dinner and domino night every Tuesday for what seemed like forever. Pre-legalization, this night and location was clutch for New York City stoners in-the-know, as the kitchen staff would pretend to not see groups of the homies walk past them and open the back door to blaze it up in our private smoking section.
Currently in New York City, the cannabis laws are progressive. We can smoke the loud wherever cigarette smoke is allowed, which makes this restaurant (owned by John Seymour, Kyle Martin, and hip-hop royalty Nas) the perfect spot for the creative vibes to flow. With that being said, it was no surprise to see that the beloved Sweet Chick LES location ended up being the official hub for a live streaming of the creation of TrillStatik 2— an entire album produced by Statik Selektah starring Bun B (of UGK) with special guests. The full project was recorded, mixed, and mastered in 24 hours and has been available on all platforms since Friday, December 9. Ironically, it has taken me longer to write about this album than it did for them to create it.
Photos courtesy of Erick Sasso.
Statik Selektah happens to be one of my oldest friends. In his early years, I personally witnessed him rise within the hip hop ranks while making the pilgrimage to New York City from Boston as frequently as he could. Eventually, when DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s offices were raided and the mixtape game was declared officially over and done, Statik started dropping commercial albums with himself at the helm doing 100% of the production.
The catalog speaks for itself, with soon to be 10 studio albums under his belt, featuring some impressive hard-hitting performances from the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, and Griselda. He has made special moments happen over the years with his musical collaborations, such as the time he linked hip hop fallen soldiers Sean Price and Mac Miller on the same track, dropping a song with 2Chainz then making an entire album together (release TBD), and then of course there is the TrillStatik series with the legendary Bun B.
I was planning to go to this event because I have been a huge fan of UGK. I was super impressed with the first TrillStatik, and have an overall respect for Bun B as an incredible artist, activist, and pothead. However, I got even more interested when my guy Matt from The Astor Club hit me with a, “You’re going right?” text. As it turns out, Sweet Chick’s offices were turned into a pop-up recording studio, complete with an artist lounge with the kind of hospitality worth writing about. First of all, Astor Club had one of their finest rollers on site, rolling VIP guests blunts or doobies of their choice.
The Astor Club donated a half pound of some fire RS-11. But that’s not all, there was a Puffco giveaway which had Proxy’s and Pro’s on deck, as we dabbed out complementary globs from Trichadelics and Pressure Labz. Vibes papers was also a sponsor, which came in handy later in the evening when I was introduced to The TENCo team who allowed me to sample some of that Pink Zushi, which is easily now a new favorite. Also big shoutout to Matt from High Mart, Johnny Nunez (who has all the pictures according to Nas), plus a cannabis brand Lizm, who has partnered up with hip hop legend Jadakiss.
At a certain point in this lovely evening, I’m absolutely highed up. I mean, I feel amazing, and I am ready to do some journalism. However, this is where my story becomes a cautionary tale. I’m just going to keep it a buck here—I made the awful mistake of interrupting Bun B while he was writing a rhyme. I approached the legend without hesitation to shoot my shot. “Where are we at in the process?”, I asked. To which he replied with a smirk, “I just sat down, wrote two words, and you asked me a question.” Well, you might as well have played the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme music at that point, because I basically just tripped Shaq while sitting courtside.
Statik, Dave East, Paul Wall discuss the Music
Figuring I wore out my welcome in the studio space, I hit the artist lounge to conduct interviews and had the brilliant Sasso on hand to capture some song breakdowns:
“We Live” featuring Dave East & Jinell
High Times: Guys, are you ready for this album to come out tonight?
Dave East: Statik?! When is this coming out?
Statik: It’s coming out tonight.
East: No, that’s too fast, who’s mixing your music?
Statik: I am. I mix everything I do.
Tell us about this record you just made.
East: The track I just did with Bun is incredible. This was the first time that I got to work with him, thanks to Statik Selektah. Statik just has my sound. There are only a few producers that I can lock in with that embody my sound. Working with Statik is a layup. I heard the beat and was like, “Let’s go!” I looked back to see who the engineer was, and it was Stat recording me!
Statik: You want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.
Mr. East, what are you smoking on?
East: Eastco all day baby. Eastlatto and Eastpop coming soon, ‘bout to hit y’all with the new, new.
“Ain’t No Tellin” featuring 38 Spesh, Grafh & Haile Supreme
Spesh, what can you tell us about your record on this project?
38 Spesh: Ah man, the record we just did was real fire. I walked in, heard the beat, and it was my type of vibe. I had no clue of what they was doing. When I walked in, it was a tempo I was normally used to, and it was like a sample that I would have chopped up personally, so when I heard it I was like “Damn, they made this for me! Bun is someone who supported me from early on and I really appreciate that. He is actually one of the genuine ones that I have met on this journey.
“Every Hour” featuring Nems & Papoose
Nems, what can you tell us about your contribution to this project?
Nems: Bun told me, “I don’t want to offend you, but can you please keep it as CONEY ISLAND as possible? Be vulgar. Be disrespectful.” Statik sent me the beat to my phone. I don’t like to write with mad people around, I like to be in the zone. So, I went to my truck with 2 bad bitches and wrote the verse in 20 minutes. Bun got on that ignorant shit as well, Papoose came in an hour later and made that shit the complete package. BING BONG!
“Building Bridges” featuring Paul Wall & Termanology
Paul Wall, how was this experience for you?
Paul Wall: This was a dope experience. Bun B was the first person to ever come to the studio to help us figure out things when we thought we were doing something. He came in there and taught us how to be professional at it, so he’s always been the big bro and mentor. We’ve been following the leader with him for a long time—he’s a leader. I actually missed the first one, and ended up getting on the deluxe edition. So, when I saw they were doing this, I was like, “I’ve gotta be there.”
What are you smoking on?
Paul Wall: I’ve been smoking these Astor Club pre-rolls all night, and someone just gave me a 911 pack: half sour diesel, half haze—real New York shit.
In conclusion, Bun B is a brilliant artist who should always be celebrated, but never be interrupted. Message to Bun: I apologize for interrupting while you were creating. I never got a Trill burger, and I won’t rest till we smoke out big time. To be continued…? Trillstatik 2 is out on all platforms now.