When looking through the history of American hip-hop, prolific and innovative artists have come from all corners of the country, but no areas of America have been as yielding in their talent that the notorious east and west coasts. While fifteen years ago the only things the two rivalling epicentres of hip-hop exchanged were mean thoughts and bullets they now borrow styles and take huge influence from one another, which is no more apparent than on the collaborative album between L.A. rap collective Strong Arm Steady and emphatic East Coast beatsmith Statik Selektah: Stereotype.
Although both Strong Arm Steady and Statik Selektah have been progressing and growing within their own styles and have a firm idea of their identity, neither have yet to branch out into other areas of hip-hop to switch it up a bit. With Strong Arm Steady's vivid West coast manner consistently seeping through their image and music and Statik Selektah's gritty New York vibe prominent in his beats it is difficult to imagine a combination of the two working coherently together, but they do say that opposites attract and in the case of SAS and Statick Selektah's Stereotype they have managed to keep aspects of both East and West coast hip hop together on one record, defying the very thing they have christened their album.
Stereotype has a variety of hip-hop flavours sporadically spread across it, from the spaced out opening of 'Truth of the Truth' which, like so many important hip-hop songs, highlights the struggles of life in the ghetto and includes lyrics oozing with street knowledge, foremost of which is the line, "the outline between an ally and rival is a thin one, mandatory means of survival is a big gun." It also includes a sampled voice at the beginning of the song stating that this album, and I quote "is for the poor, black motherfucker living in the god-damn ghetto." Juxtaposing this slightly menacing vibe is 'Forever', the uplifting – Lupe Fiasco circa Food and Liquor esk - tune which would be as comfortable in the CD player of a convertible Cadillac cruising through any palm tree riddled city in America as in the mainstream chart. Elsewhere Selektah's production of Stereotype follows the suit of 'Forever' offering us glistening beats that shimmer with DJ Premier finesse – a huge influence of Statik Selektah, but it also delves into experimental territory, which takes the shape of 'Outta Control', 'LA Blues' and 'On My Job' which take a more electronic and unorthodox hip-hop style.
Stereotype has successfully managed to unite the East and West coasts to create a collection of varied hip-hop tunes that come together to make a record that could easily be a compilation album. Although it can sometimes be a little confused Stereotype successfully marries the opposing styles of Strong Arm Steady and Statik Selektah.