Slum Village has always been known and respected for quality, feel-good music. Slum Village is no exception. T3 and Elzhi come pretty strong on this one. Track 2 is innovative. The percussion is frenzied; the vocals are calm. The result is one of those rare tracks that you can get hype to or chill-out with.
And the relentless repping of Detroit, MI is there too. “Can I Be Me” is a mellow track which invites the listener deep into the world of Slum Village, a vivid reality of struggle and hope. Elzhi poetically invokes God’s help to walk righteously, which is admirable because he comes off so genuine. “Call Me” features fellow Detroit native Dwele over a sped up Isley Brothers sample, and (as you’d expect) is a ballad/conversation with the lovely ladies in their lives. In vintage Slum Village style, the duo tackles the pain and frustration that relationships bring, all while celebrating the miracle of real love.
But it’s not all soft. Slum Village constantly thanks their true fans, and cautions haters who thought that they were finished when rapper-producer Jay Dee a.k.a. J. Dilla left after the group’s first national album, 2000’s Fantastic, Vol. 2. (Elzhi was added to the mix shortly after. They also shun newcomers who jumped on the bandwagon after their success on Detroit Deli. They’re obviously most interested in showing their fans that they’re still here, still keeping it real.
According to T3, “The reason why we went back and self-titled this album is because we kinda went back to the old essence with what slum was with the old elements. Even though its just me and El on this one, a lot of stuff we went back to how we first started… a lot of the old school jams and topics. On this album we touch on what really happened thoughout the course of time with Slum Village, and what happened with the Jay Dee situation and how that came about, plus it’s a lot more stylish.”
Stylish, indeed. Both T3 and Elzhi are more lyrical on this album, although its El who really emerges as a beast. He’s got a confident, almost quiet flow that sneaks up on you. It’s deceptive because he spits like a dude much older than he really is. “Def Do Us” is a track about loyalty and friendship, a track about growing up boys and kicking it with that one dude who had your back no matter what. T3 also drops the 411 on the real situation with all the drama surrounding the personnel changes with the group since the 90s. “Hell Naw!” is another reality-based tale about messing with women and dealing with the consequences.
One thing is clear: they are not about hype. No rhymes about cars, clothes, record sales, or hoes. No silly hooks or radio formatted R&B duets. Just good music, plain and simple-start to finish.