Slum Village, the Detroit trio made up of Jay Dee, T3 and Baatin, are said to be one of hip-hop's best-kept secrets.
"Although many people may think they're unfamiliar with the group, Slum's been around and making their mark in music for a while," said Chris Handyside, music editor at the Detroit Metro Times.
Jay Dee (born James Yancey) recently produced songs on Q-Tip's Amplified and Common's Like Water for Chocolate, including the song "Thelonius," on which Baatin (born Titus Glover), T3 (born RL Altman III) and Jay Dee all lend their vocals.
Slum Village all in their late 20s will release
their debut album, Fantastic, Vol. 2, on June 13.
The Jay Dee-produced Fantastic, Vol. 2 features
venerable artists Pete
Rock, who co-produced the song "Once Upon
who sang on "Tell Me" and Q-Tip, who rapped on "Hold
Rhymes also appears on "What It's All About"
on "Forth and Back" (
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Slum_Village/Forth_A nd_Back.ram">RealAudio excerpt
"The artists we chose to work with are all artists that we
like," T3 said. "We're mutual fans who love and appreciate
music. We went to see D'Angelo recording at Electric Lady
Studios in New York, and it ended up being one big jam
session. We feed off of each other and respect each other
for being innovative musically."
The members of Slum Village have known each other since
they were in their teens, when they all lived in the same
Conant Gardens neighborhood of Detroit.
"I didn't grow up during Motown's heyday where men were
singing with each other on the street corner," T3 said.
"Detroit doesn't have a huge music scene or standard rap
style like the West or East Coast does. But that means
we've had space to do our own thing."
"They're street, but not thug," Handyside said. "Listening to
Slum Village feels like hanging out on a summer Saturday
night down on Jefferson Street in the heart of Detroit
hot, rhythmic, smooth and laid-back."
"We came up with the name Fantastic, Vol. 2
because when we were making the album, we were going
through all kinds of crazy stuff from record label
politics about the percentage of money we'd get from
album sales to personal problems," T3 said. "But we came
According to T3, Fantastic, Vol.2 was influenced by
the sweaty funk of James
Brown, the progressive keyboard sounds of
Hancock, the Brazilian grooves of
even the pop-electronic bleeps of
"Our music is 'female-friendly hardcore' which means it's
direct and street but also musical and deep," T3 said. "It's
definitely a musical album. Even though 85 percent of it is
samples it doesn't sound really manufactured."
Not Strictly Hip-Hop
Throughout Fantastic, Vol. 2, Slum Village bring their
original blend of musical genres layered over a sturdy hip-
"When we first started we were influenced by rappers like
MC Lyte and
Kane," T3 said. "But we don't want to get
stuck in a rap rut. Don't get me wrong, there's good rap in all
rap, but it's not our biggest influence. We've been together
for 12 years. We all play instruments and jam together.
We're an innovative musical collective that's ever
He said Slum Village couldn't be put into any one category,
including hip-hop, because they weren't dominated by any
"Their music is a mosaic of sounds," Handyside said. "It's
idiosyncratic, trend-setting and comes out of left field. They
Combining a vintage hip-hop sound with an international
flavor and diverse musical taste has made the group an
underground favorite. "Fantastic, Vol. 2 has gotten
the hell bootlegged out of it for the past year, in the states
and abroad," said Khary Kimani Turner, a Slum Village fan in
Detroit who has written about the group for more than three
"Slum told me that they did a show at the House of Blues in
Los Angeles and the audience already knew all the words
to their songs the record hasn't even been officially
released yet," Turner said.
But whether a strong fanbase will translate into huge record
sales or industry support remains a question. "I've never
heard of them," a radio programmer at New York's Hot 97,
who preferred not to be named, said. "I don't want to dis a
group I've never heard, but they're not of consequence to
us. We don't play Common, the last two
COLOR="#003163">A Tribe Called Quest
COLOR="#003163">A Tribe Called Quest
albums didn't do well for us and we didn't get a lot of interest
in D'Angelo's last single, so affiliation with those artists isn't
going to mean anything to us."
But T3 said he wouldn't want Slum Village to model itself
after what's played on the radio just for the sake of selling
more records. "I don't like artists that can't even rhyme and
are really repetitious even though they may be
selling millions of albums," T3 said. "We definitely want to be
famous but not like that. We can't respect that.
We're doing it our way."
"Right now, Detroit is the honky-rap music capital because
COLOR="#003163">Kid Rock," Handyside
said. "Slum Village challenges that standard. They're a lot of
fun and one of the great hopes of hip-hop, especially
Slum Village will kick off a tour with
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