Slum Village Biography
Rapper-producer Jay Dee left after the group’s first national album, 2000’s Fantastic, vol. 2 (Barak) and rhymer Elzhi was added to the mix for 2002’s Trinity: Past, Present and Future (Barak/Capitol). Now, with the release of Slum Village’s new album, the stunningly impressive Detroit Deli (Barak/Capitol), the group consists of just T3 and Elzhi.
Throughout the changes, Slum Village’s musical mission has remained constant: to deliver soul-stirring sonics that represent Detroit to the fullest. That vision is fully realized on Detroit Deli. Throughout the sensational 15-cut collection, T3 and Elzhi give listeners an intimate look at life in The D, from where they shop, hang with friends and eat to the type of cars they drive (check “Zoom”) and what clothes they wear.
Slum Village represents the Midwest’s funk heritage on the inspirational “Do You,” which was produced by Jay Dee, and teams with Chicago’s Kanye West on lead single “Selfish,” a sly, piano-driven song where T3, Elzhi and West rap about their desire to have a monopoly with women. They then team with Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the riotous “Dirty” about having to battle for a women and deliver a Player’s Hand Guide of sorts on the sensuous “Count The Ways,” both produced by BR Gunna.
Detroit Deli stands as Slum Village’s most musically rich album to date. BR Gunna producers Black and Young RJ, both 20 years old, handled the majority of the beats, while Kanye West produced “Selfish,” Jay Dee handled “Do You” and T3 along with young RJ produced “Closer” and “Count The Ways.” The beats are as divergent as the album’s subject matter, ranging from soulful to futuristic, but they always remain powerful and innovative.
The same can be said for Slum Village’s storied career. After releasing Fantastic Volume One independently, Slum Village became one of hip-hop’s hottest groups. While working on Fantastic, vol. 2, they were joined in the studio by such luminaries as D’Angelo, Busta Rhymes, Kurupt, Pete Rock and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, among others. The resulting album became an underground classic and Slum Village was seen as the second coming of the Native Tongues (A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, De La Soul) by member Q-Tip, as well as fans and journalists alike.
Jay Dee left the group after Fantastic, vol. 2 in order to work on his solo career, but Slum Village pressed on, releasing in 2002 the Dirty District mix tape and later that year its third album and first with new member Elzhi, Trinity. Many fans looked at rapper-producer Jay Dee as the group’s backbone, but Trinity proved that Slum Village could provide without its sonic architect, as that album’s single “Tainted” became the group’s biggest hit.
“We’ve always stuck to our guns,” T3 says. “We’ve never tried to change to get commercial success. We always just did what we did and when you do what you do, eventually somebody’s going to have to give you your respect for having the courage to do what you do.”
With Detroit Deli, Slum Village earns the respect it craves and deserves.