When Slum Village emerged in the late 1990s, the highly regarded Detroit trio of T3, Baatin, and Jay Dee (a.k.a. J Dilla) quickly asserted that their group was a liquid association, with members coming and going freely as the group evolved. This claim has proven true over the years, as the group has undergone a number of lineup changes. After the underground release of Fantastic, Vol. 1 in 1996 (the disc was officially released in 2005), Slum Village garnered serious attention opening for A Tribe Called Quest on the group's 1998 farewell tour. The band soon signed with A&M and released its label debut, Fantastic, Vol. 2, on Goodvibe Recordings in 2000. The disc featured appearances by Q-Tip and D'Angelo, artists for whom Dee had produced tracks as a member of the hip-hop production team Unmah in the mid-'90s. That first year of the new millennium also saw the band also released Best Kept Secret under the alias J-88.
Dilla left Slum Village in the early '00s to pursue a solo career, and rapper Elzhi joined the group in his absence to release 2002's Trinity (Past, Present, and Future), which featured the hit single "Tainted." Baatin soon departed as well, briefly falling victim to schizophrenia before also pursuing his own solo ambitions. As a T3-Elzhi duo, Slum Village released its fourth album, Detroit Deli (A Taste of Detroit) (2004), on Capitol Records, which featured the track "Selfish" and a high-profile roster of guests including Dirt McGirt and Kanye West. The next year, the band left the major label scene and released the mixtape Prequel to a Classic and an eponymous full-length disc.
The latter half of the '00s was a challenge for Slum Village - Dilla passed away in 2006, Baatin died in 2009, and Elzhi left in 2010. The group has persevered, however. T3 added Illa J to the group near the end of the decade in an effort to, in his words, give the outfit "that essence of Dilla," and the two released Villa Manifesto in 2010. The disc featured the late Baatin. Although its membership may have shifted significantly, Detroit's marquis crew continues to release new music and perform to enthusiastic crowds across the country. Be sure to check out the new project from Dirty Slums, featuring De La Soul. The mixtape, which includes the lead single "Turning Me Off," dropped on March 27th.
Saturday Beatles Brunch