Slum Village Provide A Tour Of The Past, Present And Future

Hip-hop group readies release of new album, due August 13.

Slum Village want their new album to take listeners on an historical tour of
sorts. Scheduled for an August 13 release, Trinity (Past, Present and
represents the three musical schools of the Detroit group,
whose sonic brethren include the Roots and A Tribe Called Quest.

“We broke the album into three segments,” group member T3 said of the follow-up to 2000’s Fantastic, Vol. 2. “The ’Past’ is the old school, the
Slum Village sound from like the Vol. 2 album. The ’Present’ is more in
your face, clubbish-type joints. The ’Future’ part of the album is like
futuristic soul, but with a retro type of sound. We were trying to give you
three different feels for the album. We wanted to give people what Slum
Village was, where we’re at today and where we’re going.”

Unlike groups that feature indistinguishable rappers, Slum Village has
distinct roles for its three members. The sage Baatin holds it down for the
past, spokesperson T3 represents the present and newcomer Elzhi reps
for the future. (Jay Dee, the group’s primary producer, left the group
to pursue a solo career, though he did produce three Trinity tracks as alter ego
Jay Dilla.)

Wanting to pick up where Fantastic, Vol. 2 left off, Slum Village return
with “Tainted,” a mellow cut that encourages people to take command of their
own circumstances. “It’s a good soulful joint, a feel-good joint that’s
definitely romantic in a sense, too,” T3 said. “You have all those
elements, and then there’s a positive message behind it, too.”

Other cuts on Trinity showcase Slum Village’s diversity.
Party-starting Scott Storch sizzler “Get Live” and fellow club cut “Slumber”
generate excitement while “Harmony” represents the “Future” portion of the

This new diversity comes courtesy of a multitude of producers handling the
beats. Jay Dee produced all but two of the Fantastic cuts, but is joined
on Trinity by Storch, Hi-Tek, Waajeed, Karriem Riggins and Nottyhead.

This rotating cast also includes the introduction of Elzhi, whom T3 has
known since 1996. The two met at Detroit’s Hip-Hop Shop, which was also
frequented by Eminem, D12 and Royce Da 5’9”. T3, who was looking for an
artist to manage, started recording with Elzhi but was so impressed with his
work that he took him in as a full-time Slum Village member.

Elzhi, who earned his MC stripes in rhyme ciphers, brings a new element to
Slum Village’s sound. “Before Elzhi, we were more like witty, freestyle, just
feelgood, in-the-pocket type of guys,” T3 said. “Elzhi brings more of an
intellectual way. He speaks more directly. Slum Village, we always speak
indirectly. It’s for you to put the pieces together, for you to figure out
what we’re trying to say.”

Many Slum Village fans were trying to figure out what the Slum Village
Dirty District album was when it arrived in stores at the end of June.
Rather than being the new Slum Village album, as it appeared, the album was
a Slum-sponsored compilation that showcased Slum associates Phat Kat, Mu,
Fuzz and others.

“There’s a lot of stuff coming out of Detroit,” T3 said. “There’s so much
talent here and the diverse part comes from everybody being cliquish. That
makes us develop our own sound, and I like that. I don’t want people to
identify Detroit as one sound. I want people to say, ’These guys are
creative as a whole ’cause you don’t know what you’re going to get from
Detroit, but it’s going to be tight in its own way.’ ”