June 13, 2022

Slum Village "Fantastic Vol.II" (June 13, 2000)

Imagine performing a big Los Angeles gig and realizing that so many people in the audience know your lyrics because they've bought bootlegs of your unreleased tracks. Such was the bittersweet epiphany for Detroit's Slum Village at a recent House of Blues gig. Rapper T3 recalls his mixed feelings. To know so many people appreciated his music was nice, but to know that record label struggles were keeping him from a wider audience and, of course, personal profit, was not. The buzz around the decade-old group first began in the mid-90s, when member Jay Dee passed Q-Tip a tape of his tracks backstage at a show. This led to work on A Tribe Called Quest's Beats, Rhymes & Life, and brought together Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Dee as The Ummah production team. Dee's resume filled out with De La Soul's "Stakes Is High," Busta Rhymes's "Woo-Hah" and several tracks by Common. "Jay Dee goes through phases," says T3. "He doesn't do one style. The Common joint is funk and soul. The Q-Tip joint is like techno. Different producers have one set style--with Jay Dee, you don't know." The thread that joins all of Dee's work, including his Slum Village production, is an appreciation of realistic, stripped drum patterns that may sound simple, but are complex in texture and process. The trio signed with A&M in '98 just before the subsidiary label was phased out during the Universal merger. In the meantime, the influence of Baatin and T3's unorthodox delivery--bouncy cadences that often stutter-step and defy traditional rhythms--was cropping up in the throats of their peers, including Tip and Common. How does it feel to hear your influence on seasoned artists when your debut hasn't been released? "We're all a big family," reasons T3. "It'd be different if he was someone we didn't know." And now that Slum Village's Fantastic Vol.II (Good Vibe-Atomic Pop-Barak/Virgin) is dropping, there's a chance for the group to be more than just a Motor City wheel in the underground machine. - CMJ New Music Monthly (July, 2000). Dig in!

Slum Village's Fantastic Vol.II is a project you can always come back to!