Compact Disc (CD)
Three days after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 virus a global pandemic, and cities across the country were weighing what steps to take to contain its spread, Statik Selektah and Termanology—who record together under the name 1982—announced that they’d be using the mandated time indoors to make a new record. The album would be called The Quarantine, and its creation would be live-streamed. They invited a dozen guest emcees to join them in the studio—this was before strict “social distancing” measures had been imposed—conducted a marathon 11-hour recording session, spent the rest of the night mixing and mastering the record, and dropped the finished product the next day.
Fittingly, the album’s cover depicts the elements that presumably were involved in its creation: a surgical mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, a pen, a rhyme book, a shot glass, and a dime bag. The album was recorded in Brooklyn, New York and most of the artists who make cameos are natives of the borough. The roster includes buzzing blue chips like UFO Fev, Marlon Craft, and Nems, alongside seasoned vets like Tek (Smif ’N Wessun), Lil Fame (M.O.P.), and Grafh. The tone is set from the outset on “Pandemic,” where Term raps: “Living in scary times, prepare to die/ Mask on your face with your hands sanitized/ Silent cries from the rich, now they victimized/ Not a big surprise, hope you bitches fry/ Let’s not forget this whole nation was colonized/ Given diseases, rape, pillage, and skinned alive.”
While not every song is that direct, references to the pandemic abound. On album standout cut “Relatable,” Pro Era co-founder CJ Fly flexes intricate wordplay in his topical verse: “This quarantine ain’t nothing new, I’m used to being the illest/ I stay away from all these parasites that stay trying to kill us/ While you little n—s out in the club, I’m cosy in bed/ With my Puerto Rican mami that sound like Rosie Perez / How the fuck did they let Corona get spread?/ Why you think I’m masked up? Can’t let it go to my head.”
Musically, the songs are built on warm, melodic keyboard and piano loops, which Statik occasionally spikes with velvety vocal samples (the strongest example is the scat singing he layers throughout “This Too Shall Pass.”) The only track that departs from the album’s relaxed vibe is “Morphine,” which provides a jolt of energy via a chopped-up orchestral hit and the rowdy energy of M.O.P.’s Lil Fame. “I spit fire, y’all can’t deny it/ Y’all fold under pressure, I was taught to apply it/ Spazmatic, I spazz with it/ See that cloth that you cut from? I wouldn’t wipe my ass with it.” In these uncertain times, there is indeed comfort in the fact that not even shelter in place orders can stop Lil Fame’s boasting.