When Detroit artists, Slum Village released their debut album, Fantastic Volume 2, in 1999, they introduced themselves to the public as a group who had a progressive vision for hip-hop’s future yet still gave a nod to the continuing funk spectrum of black music through the decades. Their appreciation of all things music, not just hip hop, has set them apart from the growing number of vision limited artists that we see on the charts today.
Lead by the enigmatic, producer extraordinaire, Jay Dee, and heralded as the next-generation of torch-bearers for inspired hip-hop by their Native Tongue peers; Baatin and T3 are back to merge the past, present and future of their hip-hop on one album.
Trinity begins eclectic enough with a choir singing “Trinity”, and follows it up with the head banging, bass heavy “Intro”. This album contains a spontaneous, melodic, go-with-the-flow, sound. “What it is”, “LaLa”, and “All-ta-ment” are perfect initial examples.
With songs all having Slum‘s usual head-nodding flair, it’s difficult to single a few as truly noteworthy above the already excellent selection. “Disco” is definitely one of those tracks. For anyone who slept on Slum‘s first album, their message from “Disco”: “Sweetheart we are players/ you wouldn’t understand if you bought Volume 2 from the bootleggers”. The first “Interlude” is another fine example, because Elzhi makes his appearance, and the percussion and bass line is sonic joy. “Star” has the boys showing chameleon like skills on the mic, in front of a jazzy, funky melody with heavy bass injections. It’s wonderful, if you also factor in the soulful voice lacing the chorus of this track.
“Slumber” is a great example of the tight production and confidence Slum is feeling from the kudos they have received from notables in the industry. The song runs like freestyle, with SV amalgamating bravado lyrical content, with a neck-snapping beat. A song that truly shines is the self explanatory “Soul” because that’s what your feeling when you hear it. The track “Harmony” borrows the beat from the choir at the beginning of the album and is an exemplary song. SV shows here that they have harmony in spades, and that the balancing act that they do with diverse styles and beats is no fluke. Slum‘s ability to hop around and interpolate the rhythms of the sparse sound with their limber rhyme styles and unique voices is the fuel to the production’s fire. The only detrimental aspect of this fine album is that to some, it may come of as a bit boring. The tracks generally have the same sound style and malaise which may not appeal to everyone. As well, if you weren’t feeling SV the first time around; this album will do nothing to change your mind.
The minimal soul that is Slum Village‘s trademark sets them apart from the standard lo-fi indie sound, as well as the play by numbers mainstream sound. They have successfully carved out a niche that hasn’t been seen since A Tribe Called Called Quest, and De La Soul of yesteryear. Slum Village makes music that is undeniably charismatic, separating them from the norm, making this latest album come recommended.