Today (December 15th) marks the beginning of a Slum Village revival. Four years removed from their self-titled fifth album, the Detroit duo of Elzhi and T3 are preparing to unleash several new Slum-sponsored projects beginning with today’s release of the Villa Manifesto EP.
“It’s just classic Slum,” T3 told HipHopDX recently of the six-track, online-only release. “It’s just giving something to our fans so they won’t have to wait ‘til next year when the full Villa Manifesto album comes out. We figured we needed to put some music out asap because it’s been like four years since we had a release. So it’s been a minute.”
Released as a single this past May, the Focus-produced, Marsha Ambrosius-assisted smooth standout “Cloud 9” concludes Slum’s warm-up release helmed mainly by Young RJ.
“He really doing his thing on here,” said T3 of the budding beatmaker. “People gonna be very surprised by the range of where he going from one beat to the next beat.”
Surprising production aside, all any Slum fan really is interested to know is if these songs are good enough to have made it to the full-length version of Villa Manifesto?
“Oh yeah, they definitely woulda made the album cut,” T3 replied when asked. “[Laughs] We not gon’ give you no trash like, ‘Aww these wouldn’ta made the album, y’all just take these.’ I think they just classic Hip Hop [songs]. [But] on the [full] album we kinda pushing the boundaries a little bit. It ain’t just classic Hip Hop on the album. So, we just wanted to reacquaint our fans [with our music]. I know it’s been a minute, [so it’s like] here take this, this is good music, you know, we know they gon’ enjoy it.”
During his discussion with DX, T3 pointed to the Madlib-produced “Money Right” as a personal favorite selection from the EP, as he explained, “[It’s] a dope record about these times and economy, and how people putting they pieces together when the economy so bad. How is we still able to get through this when things are so [bad], especially in Detroit?”
Maybe most noteworthy about the Villa Manifesto EP is the inclusion of recently-passed group-member Baatin.
“He’s on every song,” noted T3. “That guy – God rest his soul – he recorded so many songs in the last six months before he passed. So we got a lot of material.”
Tragedy was compounded with Baatin’s passing in July just as Elzhi and T3 had repaired their once fractured relationship with Slum’s eccentric third member.
“I’m happy I got a chance to at least work with him [before] him passing because I always regret the time when me and Dilla talked about doing a reunion album with me, him, ‘Tin and Elzhi,” said T3. “So, I didn’t wanna let that happen again, so I said if we was to ever go back into the studio and do another Slum album then I definitely want Baatin to be a part of it. And I’m happy I [followed through on that] not knowing that he was gonna pass as soon as he did.”
While Baatin’s voice is heard throughout Slum’s new EP, one voice that is not heard is that of Illa J. However, T3 revealed to DX that the younger sibling of deceased legendary producer, and co-founding member of Slum, J Dilla will play a notable role in the group’s forthcoming new LP. T3 has been previously quoted as suggesting that Illa would be joining the group’s lineup, so is the producer/emcee/singer official Slum now or not?
“Ah, he’s a…I’m not gonna say – He is always official,” T3 replied when asked. “Illa J has the freedom to do whatever he wants to do. So if he wants to be rappin’ he rappin’, if he don’t he’s working on his. So I’m just gonna say he’s always an honorary member.”
Illa J’s production on the upcoming Villa Manifesto full-length will be heard alongside some unreleased track-work from his big brother (along with a couple never-before-heard Dilla vocals).
“I don’t think this stuff flooded out [with the rest of the posthumously-released Dilla material],” T3 revealed of the unreleased Dilla vocals and beats Slum has in hand for their new LP. “This some stuff we just had that people wasn’t really up on.”
Slum will wrap recording for the Villa Manifesto full-length at the end of January to make a tentative March 2010 physical CD release date via Sony/Red. The album currently boasts an eye-popping tentative production lineup of J Dilla, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Madlib, Black Milk, Illa J and Young RJ.
But while the full album’s production and guest lineup is yet to be finalized, the LP’s first single, “Faster,” is already locked and loaded. The song is featuring Colin Monroe, and as T3 stated previously, the group is pushing the boundaries of their sound this time out.
“It’s a different approach,” he said of “Faster.” “People ain’t gonna be expecting this record from us ‘cause it’s…I don’t know how to describe it. It’s kinda digital-like. It’s made by Young RJ. I think it’s definitely a record for the ladies. You know how we do, we go for the ladies at the end of the day. I mean, we like our Hip Hop fans, but when we do singles we usually go women-oriented…because it works. [Laughs]"
In addition to Slum’s upcoming new LP, the current co-host of “Da Villa Chronicles” web series revealed to DX that he might soon be segueing to a much bigger documentation of Slum’s career.
“I really wanna do a movie,” said T3. “We was working on a movie before ‘Tin passed. I really wanna do a movie, but I just gotta figure out the way to do it. I just wanna tell the story of like underground artists… You always see the bigger artists’ [stories of] like rags to super riches, [but] not like a guy who gotta work his way step-by-step up… [We had to] go overseas for a while, grind out, build our name up to get certain recognition. It was steps we took. It wasn’t like a rags to riches thing… [Our movie will be] kinda like the Hip Hop version of Five Heartbeats.”
For the moment Slum’s focus is more music than movies as the group will kick off their busy 2010 schedule with the release of Fantastic Vol. 2.10 on January 5th.
“Basically it’s like some of our unreleased and remixed versions of [songs] that Dilla did on Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” said T3 of the new editions of the group’s first two efforts.
T3 revealed to DX that following the release of 2.10 he will be releasing his own album, Night Gallery. He further noted that a new Elzhi mixtape will also released alongside Night Gallery in the couple months between the release of 2.10 and the full-length Villa Manifesto album
With a new Slum EP and LP, the retooled release of the group’s first two albums, and solo side projects all due over the course of the next few months, Slum Village is announcing to the world that they are officially out to takeover 2010.
“That’s the key to keeping our fans interested,” said T3 of Slum’s sudden burst of new releases. “You gotta keep dropping music, man.”
Villa Manifesto EP is available now on iTunes from Barak Records.