Lets face it. Groups today are a rare and endangered species in Hip-Hop. With every Voltron-united collective comes a natural urge for members to forge a solo path towards their own success, beyond the protective shadow of a former life. Although they have dabbled in outside collaborations and projects, the members of Slum Village remain rooted in maintaining a united front.
And with the return of group co-founder Baatin, SV is more focused than ever, as they travel around the country as part of this years Rock the Bells tour and gear up for the release of a new group album as well as solo material in the coming months.
AllHipHop.com recently caught up with T3, who weighs in on Baatins reemergence, why Slum Village members havent permanently gone solo, the Charles Hamilton/J. Dilla controversy and why the new SV album will not include music from his late group mate.
AllHipHop.com: How is it having Bataan back in the fold?
T3: The whole thing is I felt like the fans wanted Bataan to come back. And I felt like I really didnt want to do another album without Baatin. I wanted his energy. So, like I say, I started my blues brother adventure and had to find all my band members. Which was Elzhi, who was on the road doing his solo thing. Called him up and told him we tryin to get this new Slum album done. Then I had to go find Baatin in the old neighborhood where we grew up at. I found him and he was ready. He seemed like he had his stuff together. So thats how the whole wheel started spinning for this new Slum Village album because basically, for the last couple of years, we dropped an album but we were going through a lot of depression. Dilla passed and then Proof passed. I really didnt feel like doing no music. I wasnt inspired. I was really just going through my thing.
AllHipHop.com: So what ultimately motivated you to say Hey, Im ready to get the fellas back and do another Slum album?
T3: I mean you can only be depressed so long before you either pull yourself up or it just tears you down. So after a couple of years, I dont know man, I just started kickin it with my crew and I got inspired by the cats I was around, you knowwhatimsayin, with the music. Like Guilty [Simpson] or Black Milk or cats like that. They kept the motivation goin. Then I started off working on my solo album and I just stopped that once this Slum Village [project] started going and Ill finish that later. So thats basically how it all got started. It was basically me, Young RJ and Scrap. And then we just rounded up everybody. Then we started to work on this album and try to map out some Slum Village music. And the difference between this versus a lot of our other albums is we got multiple producers, which we never do that much. It usually be one producer producing our whole album or maybe two. Like Dilla or when it was BR Gunner doing a lot of our stuff, which was Black Milk and Young RJ. So thats how it usually we get down, but for this album we got Focus from Dres camp and we got Hi-Tek and then we got G-Rock. And then we got Madlib, Then we got Dave West. We just went out on the production We were just working with people we had relationships with and we know they come with some classic s**t.
AllHipHop.com: What is the official name of the new album?
T3: Its called Villa Manifesto. Its just a Slum Village statement to the people. And basically we sayin weve been gone for a while. We kinda gotta break down where we been and what we been going through and, you know, address the people. So thats what this album kinda doing in a whole. Thats why we decided to call it that.
AllHipHop.com: Im assuming Dillas presence will be found on this album.
T3: Always. Always, but the whole thing about the Dilla situation is we got a few jewels that we never released. And that we kinda holdin until the smoke clears. Right now, its so much goin on with the Dilla estate and all this, a bunch of other stuff. Charles Hamilton crazy s**t. Its nuts out here. Hip-Hop has gone crazy [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Eventually time passes and things fade. I know people feel strongly about this Dilla/Hamilton situation. So much so that Michigan may not be the place for him. Do you feel that over time ?
T3: Anything is possible over time. I mean, like Chris Brown over time and whoever over time. Yeah. Over time, yeah, anybody can make it happen. You can reinvent yourself. You can come from another angle. Yeah, you know, anything can happen. Over time. When whats her name forgot the lyrics. Over time we forgot. It happens. So yeah, you get over stuff over time. Ill say that. I dont know, man. It depends on how big it is because people aint still forgave OJ. Over time. [laughs] Let me just say it depends on how big it is and what you messin with Over time certain stuff people aint gonna forget. Let me say that too.
AllHipHop.com: Lets go back to this Villa Manifesto album. You mentioned the producers on there. You got a solid group of producers on there, including some of the unused Dilla beats?
T3: Naw. We didnt put any Dilla beats on there. Not because we dont have any or not because we didnt want to put any on there. Its just we waiting for the perfect time to put it out. We gonna do a whole Dilla album that we wanna do dedicated to the whole Dilla movement. But not on this album. Not this album. But we already got an album wrapped that we got in the bat cave, which is just all Dilla. So for this one, no. Yes, we gonna rep Dilla everywhere we go. But not for this particular album because we just didnt want to go there. Its like I love the support, but I dont know. You get on that fence, man because I feel like Dilla didnt get his respect that he shouldve got when he was alive.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a timeframe that fans could expect this album?
T3: Probably next year. I wanted to put it out this year but this year almost over with. Thats how I see it. Summertime thats halfway through. Almost. Probably next year. Early next year. Thats what we lookin for to do the Dilla album.
AllHipHop.com: whats made Baatins return an important event for Slum Village?
T3: Baatin brings a lot of energy but also with Baatin you gonna get all this energy. But at the same time, you dont know what you gonna get. Its Baatin, youknowwhatimsayin [laughs]. Its just like all this energy. You know you gonna have a great time when Baatin hits the stage. But he Baatin. He adds that spontaneity that you not gonna get from nobody else. Ever. Its Baatin. We never kicked Baatin out the group. I will never kick him out he group. He always got an open door. If he wanna rap on anything that Slum Village do, I will never tell him No. Baatin helped found this group. I can never tell this guy No.
AllHipHop.com: Theres always this perception that rap is a young mans game, but like you said, you have a lot of artists that are in their 30s thats still making great music. As you get older, how do you see your musical direction?
T3: It has to evolve with your audience. It has to be bigger. It has to be better. For us, what works for us may be is not the same as everybody is feelin it. But for our fans, as long as we keep it raw and they like some of our female-friendly songs as well, as long as we keep it raw, they pretty much rollin with us. They dedicated to rollin with us. And we got fans like that, that grow with us on some Rolling Stones/Beatles stuff. OK, they still growin. They still love the music. We still here. I dont have to make a hot song every year for my fans to be there.