Trinity-Past, Present, Future
In Stores Now.
When Slum Village released their debut album, Fantastic Volume 2, in 1999,
they introduced themselves to the public as a group who had a progressive vision for hip-hop's future yet still gave a nod to the continuing funk spectrum of black music through the decades. Judging by a quick survey of the hip-hop province, that combination was in raresupply and, probably hadn't been done well enough since the days of the Native Tongues. Others seemed to agree
and two years after amassing acclaim with that album, Slum Village return with their second offering: Trinity - Past, Present, Future. With this album, the Detroit-based group look at the journey they've experienced, take stock in the
realities of their current surroundings and look to the road ahead - all with the usual head-nodding flair and, of course, a few surprises. "There's definitely surprises," says the group's T3. "I think people know us for being spontaneous
and go-with-the-flow. But we constructed this album to be very lyrical. We've developed like three or four concepts to go on at the same time." Slum Village began several years ago as a musical union between rappers Baatin and T3 and producer Jay Dee, who grew up together in the Conant Gardens neighborhood of Detroit. The group issued a handful of indie singles in the area and were steeped in the city's rich music scene. Even before they properly released anything to the public, Slum Village were being heralded as next-generation torch-bearers for inspired hip-hop. Jay Dee was the most visible to emerge into the spotlight, making his name by producing The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, among others. His stripped-down soul-clap minimalism was a recognizable touch in his work and a much-desired sound.
But people knew it wasn't Jay Dee alone that made Slum Village, and it was his interplay with rappers Baatin and T3 that made Slum Village's sound so celebrated. Their ability to hop around and interpolate the rhythms of the
sparse sound with their limber rhyme styles and unique voices was the fuel to the producer's fire. The effect was striking: the group's never-released demo, Fantastic Volume 1, began making the rounds amongst the hip-hop cognoscenti. People praised the group's free-spirit ways and post-modern hip-hop sound:
Q-Tip, ?uestlove, D'Angelo and Black Star all went on record with their love for Slum Village. "What can you say?," asks Baatin, rhetorically.
"Those are some high quality people whose tastes you trust." Adds T3, "It's just a blessing to be recognized by those kinds of artists. Those are artists that we've always respected." Fantastic Volume 2 was released in 1999 on Goodvibe/Barak after many months delay due to record industry restructuring (the group were originally signed to the now-defunct A&M Records).
When it was finally released, the chemistry between Jay Dee's beats and T3 and Baatin's percussive rhyming style was near magical, bringing a new perspective on hip-hop's sound. Q-Tip even rhymed as much when, on the Slum
song, "Hold Tight," he inferred that, with the demise of A Tribe Called Quest, the future of hip-hop was "in the hands of Slum now." Other guests like D'Angelo, Busta Rhymes, Pete Rock and Jazzy Jeff were also featured guests on the album, which is cited as one of the more important hip-hop records of the last few years. "It was just a great learning and evolving experience for us as a group," says Baatin, of the whole experience. "We got to work with some amazing musicians and really do what we wanted to."
For their current album, Trinity: Past, Present, Future, the group has changed dynamic to keep things ever evolving. The biggest question will be: Where is Jay Dee? The producer, who has always considered his creative base, decided
to pull back from the day-to-day operations of the group, leaving much of the creative impetus to rest with Baatin and T3.
The rigors of touring took Jay Dee away from his primary love - making beats in the studio. But Slum Village will always be the three of them, says Baatin. "Slum Village is the fluid entity," he explains. "The core members will always be us three. We may take different roads at different times but we'll all be involved in Slum." Indeed, Jay Dee produced several tracks on Trinity, and he will continue to have input with T3 and Baatin on any and all future Slum Village projects. In addition to his work, other tracks were produced by DJ Hi-Tek, Scott Storch, Young RJ Ne'Astra, Black Milk, Waajid and Karriem Riggins, who is responsible for the mellifluous vibe on the lead single, "Tainted". Trinity, meanwhile, was built as a concept album. It is divided into three parts that represents the group's journey: where they've been, where they are and where they're headed. "It's a mix of biographical stories and also part fantasy," describes T3. "There's a lot of concepts we're playing with that, to us, have never been done in hip-hop."
As part of their effort to keep things evolving, Slum Village recruited up-and-coming Detroit rapper Elzhi to join in on Trinity. Including new talent on subsequent albums is something T3 and Baatin want to keep doing with Slum. As Baatin jokes, it'll "keep things interesting." "Elzhi adds a lyrical part to Slum, that battle-ready aspect. It's a balance now between him and our sound, which is more freestyle, go with the beats style," says Baatin. Trinity was written and recorded over the last year and a half. "The album has us playing different roles," explains T3. "I play a battle soldier, Elzhi is the orator and Baatin is the shapeshifter." These personalities, he says, will be evident not only in the rhyming style and the content of the lyrics but also in the energy of the songs. "It's always been a magical mix that's made Slum what we are," says Baatin. "But keeping the same magic all the time makes the music sound the same. We want to shake things up a bit."
That, more than anything, will keep the Slum Village spirit alive.
How did you guys form Slum Village?
Was it rough comin up in Detroit?
Tell us a little bit about the new album
Who got down on production?
Got any tour dates set?
What do you want the people to get from you and your music?
What artists you wanna work with?
What type of influence or style do you guys try to incorporate into your music?
Is Hip Hop going in the right direction?
what do you wanna tell your fans?
What Is This
Marvelous Marv 80ís Unisex
Love U Hate
Who Are We(interlude)
Falliní Love (interlude)
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