On the break up of Slum Village.
An open letter to whom it may concern.
It’s hard to try to write about Slum Village coming to an end. Although,
it’s an obituary that I have had in my head for a very long time. TheEnd is one of hip-hop’s more resilient groups because they kept coming
back after continuous and consistent adversities.
However, this time there seems to be no coming back.
It is the end of an era.
Slum Village is the first rap group I ever worked for. They are the
first group to ever pay me. The first to believe in my talent as a music
industry marketer and promoter. They were right.
Over the last ten years, I have worked on and off with this group. I
have been in meetings helping pick singles, I have given my feedback on
marketing, touring, and merchandising. Sometimes I was even listened to,
sometimes not so much. I won’t list my resume here or all of my
accomplishments, because this isn’t about me, but I will say:
I still get calls on occasion to do a little something for the group.
From transcribing lyrics to writing Baatin’s obituary. There is nothing
that I will not do for Slum Village.
And I am not alone.
However, the constant rotation of members, the inconsistent album
releases, the label changes, and abstract pop mixed with hardcore
posturing from the group has relegated them to a small niche fanbase.
Which has ultimately led to their demise.
Don’t get it twisted… despite all the Tweeting and finger pointing it comes down to money.
Or in this case, lack thereof.
So, I feel bad. I love everyone associated with the group. The group
themselves, all members both here in the physical and those in the
spirit world, I have been close to; excluding Dilla whom I had no
personal relationship with in life, but worked tirelessly for in death.
Then there is the label, Barak, and I have close ties to them and love
for them as well. Then there are those who are affiliates, whom I care
very deeply for and have worked and probably will work again with.
So, I have no opinion on who is right and who is wrong. I just can’t take a side.
But, I do have my one wish.
I hope that the legacy of one of hip-hop’s most innovative and creative
groups is preserved and promoted. I hope that people don’t just forget
them or ignore them. That would be the ultimate loss. And I also hope
that everyone can move on and make money doing whatever projects
interest them. I hope that there comes some healing and forgiveness and
people remember the good times. But, I know that will take time. For
now, personally, I’m glad I’m in Atlanta and that my phone isn’t ringing
off the hook with people asking me what I think or that people aren’t
whispering he said/she said shit in my ear.
The end of Slum Village signifies an end for a part of Detroit hip-hop.
Slum was always our big brother. They were the group that every other
Detroit rapper could point to and say, “Look what we can do.” Despite
the fact that it was D12 who sold more records, they were stuck in
Eminem’s shadow and could never really get out. But Slum Village, they
were a group of their own making and they made songs that changed the
face of the game. The music was spacey and unlike any ever heard. They
championed a sound that others replicated to more financial success than
the originals. And that had to suck.
So there are a lot more than just a few hurt feelings. I am hurt and
other than my own rap battle win, I am not a rapper. But I am a Detroit
hip-hop legend, if I say so my damn self, because I spent ten years
laboring for a movement that I believed in and still believe in… from a
I am not sure where Detroit hip-hop should go from here. Things ain’t
been the same since Dilla died…and even more so since Proof died, but
that is neither here nor there. The answer isn’t the same, “We don’t
stick together,” mantra. Instead, the answer to the future is in the
past. If you want to be recognized for your achievements, Detroit
hip-hop, look to what you have accomplished. Stand up, take these
industry muthaf**kas by the collar, shake their asses and say, “B**ch,
Do you know where I’m from?” Put the damn mural up on the side of St.
Andrews which I tried to do for four years. Work on a documentary. Get
more Detroit hip-hop in the Charles H. Wright Museum, go to the cultural
community for support. Attend Detroit Entertainment Commission
meetings, and yes, stick together.
But, ass kicking isn’t the answer. No fly zones aren’t the answer. Sweeping s**t under the rug is no longer the answer.
It’s time that the Detroit hip-hop community stands up, gets out of “The
Shelter”, a comfortable hiding place, and gets in the face of the rest
of the city and starts making moves.
And if you need me… I will still be right here, right by your side, no matter where I reside.
Peace and Detroit love,
“The Fantastic” Biba the Diva