With Detroit witnessing an unparalleled run of quality material from Elzhi [click to read], Black Milk, Guilty Simpson and Royce Da 5’9”, many people wondered what happened to the group that initially helped shine the spotlight back on “The D.” HipHopDX caught up with T3 of Slum Village to find out if there’s any truth to reports of the Detroit collective hitting the studio for a sixth album which may contain beats submitted by unsigned SV fans.

“We’ve been on a three-and-a-half year hiatus,” says T3. “The reason why is because we had a lot of losses. To tell the truth, I was in a state of depression with losing Dilla and Proof, and I was even close with [MC] Breed [click to read]. With all that going on, the drive to do music wasn’t really there. I don’t expect my people to just sit around. Everybody’s gotta work and do what they’ve got to do. It was a good thing, especially for Elzhi. A lot of people were really, really digging his album [click to read].”

As with many artists, T3 turned to music for comfort, but this time he saw some unexpected results—namely a project paying tribute to Twilight Zone creator Rod Sterling’s iconic horror show.

“After the passing of my grandfather, I’ve got a renewed strength to want to do music again full throttle,” T3 explains. “The first project I started working on was Night Gallery, and it became a dark project. I’ve been a super fan of Rod Sterling for a long time, so I just decided to put those two concepts together and formulate the Night Gallery.”

And while his own solo project and that of Elzhi have taken on a darker tone than the casual Slum Village fan is used to, T3 says not to worry.

Slum Village is totally not that at all,” T3 adds. “I’m incorporating Baatin, and I’m putting Illa J [click to read] in—not to take Dilla’s place, but just to have that essence of Dilla on this new project. I’m pulling together all the producers that we’ve used before—Black Milk [click to read], Wajeed [click to read], Kareem Riggins, Pete Rock [click to read] and all the people who have been down with SV from day one.”

After a post on Okayplayer.com inviting unsigned producers to submit beats, fans can expect to hear some new additions to the traditional SV recipe.

“I wanted to give producers the opportunity to come up through Slum Village,” T3 explains. “We got like 400 beats submitted off of the strength of that post—I don’t even know how I’m gonna listen to that many beats.”

Although the concept of seeking unsigned producers through an online forum may seem odd, T3 says this is actually par for the course for SV, noting, “Once upon a time, Slum was already established, and we found Black Milk. That’s just how you do it. Just keep building and keeping the sound fresh.”

Both a new Slum Village album and T3’s Night Gallery LP will hit stores at some point during the first half of 2009, but the emcee/producer is not quite sure which will come first.

“I’m about 40% into this Slum, and I’m about 80% done with Night Gallery,” explains T3. “I think my first single will be ‘Monsters Under the Bed,’ which is about being around haters. It’s got a dark, grimy, Rock feel, but it’s still Hip Hop. Most of the samples I chopped up come from scary movies.”

Fans that purchase Night Gallery will also be rewarded with an additional treat.

“I’m also doing an animated movie with it,” T3 says. “I’m getting all my characters together. It’s based on me as a boy, when I used to work at my granddaddy’s video shop. I changed the characters around a little bit, and it’s based on this little boy who works for his granddad in the night gallery. During the night, the paintings come alive, and the little boy does fight scenes and stuff inside of the paintings.”

In the meantime, fans can keep abreast of all things Slum Village by checking out T3’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/t3. In addition to news and blogs, T3 has also released some of the late J Dilla’s famous break beats.