Titus "Baatin" Glover: The Good Die Young

AllHipHop Staff

The viewing for founding Slum Village member Titus “Baatin” Glover is being held this afternoon (1pm-8pm) at Detroit’s New Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. In the wake of another sudden loss for Detroit’s close knit Hip-Hop community, several of Baatin’s friends spoke to AllHipHop.com about the colorful and eclectic rapper’s memory.

Baatin grew up along with future Slum Village bandmates J Dilla and T3 in the Conant Garden section of Detroit. The trio had an immediate impact on Detroit’s Hip-Hop 90's community with their underground LP Fantastic Vol. 1. The 1996 offering was a seminal moment for Detroit’s music scene, and would help inspire the next generation of emcees from the region like Black Milk and Guilty Simpson.

“We lost a pioneer of Detroit Hip-Hop,” Simpson told AllHipHop.com “He was one of a kind and will never be duplicated.”

Baatin’s unpredictable and creative rhymes were a staple of Slum Village albums up until his sudden departure before 2004’s Detroit Deli, after struggling to cope with a schizophrenia diagnosis. His death is especially bittersweet for Slum member T3, who just a few weeks ago confirmed that Baatin was back in the group and recording songs for their reunion LP.

"Baatin will be missed. I'm glad we got a chance to work together before he passed,” T3 explained to AllHipHop.com “We lost another Slum soldier, a dear friend and a brother...He touched many lives. We love Baatin, R.I.P.”

Maureen Yancey, who lost her son James “J Dilla” Yancey to lupus in 2006, reflected on Baatin’s legacy.

“[My] deepest sympathy to the family friends and fans of Slum Village on the passing of Baatin,” she stated. “We loved him and his kind heart and spirit he will be forever be in our hearts.”

With Baatin’s funeral set for tomorrow (August 11) at Greater Future Missionary Baptist Church (10766 Morang Drive), Slum Village distributor and Barak Records CEO RJ Rice discussed his history with the group, and what he sees as the future of Slum Village.

AllHipHop.com: So how did you first meet The guys in Slum Village?

RJ Rice: I signed J. Dilla, T3 and Baatin in 1992. They were 17 years-old. We did [Fantastic] Volume 1. And then we did [Fantastic] Volume 2. And then of course JD left the group around 1998.

AllHipHop.com: Why did JD leave the group?

RJ Rice: Odd enough, he got tired of Baatin putting garlic on the bus. Dilla would call me at night when he was touring with a Tribe Called Quest. He said “man I am tired. Baatin, just keeps putting this garlic on the bus and I am tired of smelling this stuff.” There was a lot of fun kid stuff they would do. And then JD felt like he wanted to make more harder music. And JD never really wanted to be in a group. But he wanted to help his two friends, T3 and Baatin.

AllHipHop.com: How far do J. Dilla, T3 and Baatin go back?

RJ Rice: They go back to high school. They came to me in 1992 after we opened a record company and studio. They came to me and said they had this group they wanted me to check out. I heard the music and if you can imagine, Baatin is not there. It’s just JD and T3. And they are sitting across from my desk and I am saying “I like the music, let’s sign yall.” And they are whispering. So I asked “what are yall whispering about?” Then JD said you tell him. So T3 said “there is one more guy that’s missing.” I said “Do we need him?” He said “It’s Titus, Baatin. He’s not on the records, but we need him to get to the next level we want to get to.”

AllHipHop.com: Why was Baatin so important to the group if he wasn’t on the records?

RJ Rice: Well we had been meeting a week and I hadn’t seen him yet. When we finally met, I realized why they needed him. He’s a voice, he does characters, he sings, raps and takes the group left of center. So we record the group and all of sudden we finish Volume 1 and 2. Fast forward about 5 or 6 years. We finally get these guys going, then JD leaves. I put Elhzi in the group. That’s when Baatin started dabbling in the drugs. I knew he was.

AllHipHop.com: What was the made you notice he might be doing hardcore drugs?

RJ Rice: Because Baatin would always come to me by himself. He started to exaggerate. He would say ‘J I seen a dog 49 feet tall’, but that was sort of his personality. He did that before the drugs, but now it was more intensified and his emotions were more intensified. Baatin always kept it fun, but now for some reason was intense.

AllHipHop.com: What were some of the things that aggravated the group?

RJ Rice: The drugs were nerve racking to Dilla, but not to the point that that wanted to make him leave. He got the group to where they needed to be and he wanted to move on. We said JD go ahead and move on. We came with Tainted Love and from there we had Selfish and we were very successful. That’s when Baatin’s behavior really started wearing and tearing on the guys.

AllHipHop.com: So the reports he suffered from schizophrenia. Was that true or was it the drugs?

RJ Rice: I think he was schizophrenic, but it the drugs that exasperated it.

AllHipHop.com: Was he doing more than crack?

RJ Rice: No one never knew and Baatin called me and this is the part about it that got me. Baatin is an original. They been with me since 1992. You gonna fall in love with people like him, no matter what they do, you can’t help it. Even though we had issues, they never left, because we took care of Slum Village. For years, before the records did anything. We made sure their bills were paid and they never missed a meal for years. Everybody is so stressed because of this issue with Baatin. So then came the decision for Baatin to leave the group. It was mutual, he did not want to hinder the group.

AllHipHop.com: So when he left the group, what was his plan?

RJ Rice: He didn’t have one. My goal was to bring the group back together with J Dilla, Baatin, Elhzi and T3. I had spoken to JD and he agreed to do it. Of course JD got sick and died.

AllHipHop.com: How did Dilla’s death affect Baatin? It wasn’t a wake up call for what he was doing to himself?

RJ Rice: Well they still went in and made great records and they still managed to have hits, despite all of this. And these guys have been friend since 12, 13 years old. When I met them they were 17. When JD died it not only shattered Baatin, but it shattered Proof. All these guys came up through the studio. Proof, JD, we knew them all since 15. Proof said he thought it was him that was gonna die. He told me that out of his own mouth. Then he died. So when Baatin called me in 08, Baatin was standing in front of Slum show and couldn’t get in. He ended up getting arrested for disorderly conduct.

AllHipHop.com: How did it impact Slum Village? That’s so much extra drama when they are trying to focus on a recording career, which is already hard enough.

RJ Rice: No one knew how to deal with it. So I said “we got to put him [back] in the group.” But we knew he wasn’t ready. But I couldn’t take seeing him outside of shows, standing in front of a building, where a group he founded was performing. But he gets arrested cause he has issues. I couldn’t take it, so we put him back in the group.

AllHipHop.com: What was he doing in the mean time. Odd jobs? How did he make money?

RJ Rice: Well we would see him and he would tell us he was off the drugs. And there would be times we could tell. And we wanted to give him money, but if we gave him money we would be adding to the fire. If we didn’t we would see our friend and family member walking homeless.

AllHipHop.com: Yeah it’s tough when a family member is addicted. Sometimes the tough love just isn’t the answer.

RJ Rice: Right, and meanwhile, we did our best. Each one of them had nice cars, nice apartments. We would buy Baatin a car, and he would give it away.

AllHipHop.com: Did he give it away out of the habit?

RJ Rice: Nah there wasn’t that much of a difference between his personality and his habit. Baatin was a guy who did cleansing, ate his herbs, but the drugs made him turn from all that.

AllHipHop.com: Well, how did he get turned on to something as hard as smoking crack? That’s almost as extreme as it gets.

RJ Rice: Well I had suspicions, but I denied it. Some people sit back and say they are concerned about artists. But this is different. We found these kids at 17 and now they are 35. None of them left Barak Records. So you kind of go into denial. My focus was to get their career going, get them money, so they could achieve their success. I never viewed my position as a person who had to keep them from doing certain things. And when I met them, none of them smoked, drank or did anything and it stayed like that for 6 years. The success changed it.

AllHipHop.com: Why do you blame the success?

RJ Rice: JD became so successful. They were never impressed with stars. JD became successful so “stars” were around, but they didn’t care about that. Sometimes success comes through the back door and catches you off guard. I think during the 5 years that Baatin left the group, we were miserable. Here’s a guy who made me what I am and he can’t be in the group, because of these issues.

AllHipHop.com: Well why didn’t he go to rehab or did he make any attempts to get better? Almost nobody just stops doing crack.

RJ Rice: Well he appeared to be doing much better. He called me and asked me to listen to music last summer. He played me some music and it sounded like Vol. 1. And that’s when I realized why T3 and JD said they couldn’t have the group without Baatin. I never knew what they meant, until I heard his actual music. It’s just like Slum Village, authentic. This is the best album and performance that you will ever hear from Baatin. The Slum Village album is finished and ready. We were gonna drop The Slum album, then Big Pooh and then a double album from Baatin and T3.

AllHipHop.com: What were you doing when you found out he passed away?

RJ Rice: Well I had just sat with T3 the day before, going over the marketing plans for Slum Village. But 90% of our convo was about Baatin. The night he died he was so excited to be back in Slum. I told him, don’t worry and just hang in there, we will get through this. And Baatin said ‘I was happy you gave me the chance.’ Now that turned my stomach, because he thought I was giving him the chance, when didn’t realize nothing would exist without his contribution. I had to constantly remind him.

AllHipHop.com: So with his passing, how is this affecting his family. Did he have any children?

RJ Rice: He had two children by two mothers and they both were close to Baatin. We knew his mother and father for 17 years. It’s a lot of stress on his mother. Same with J. Dilla’s. I heard that she might be homeless soon and she also suffers from Lupus.

AllHipHop.com: What are you going to do to help them?

RJ Rice: Well we are going to hire an independent CPA to track the sales of Villa Manifesto so that money can get to Baatin’s family and the appropriate parties. It’s not going to be stopped and we are not going to pull a bunch of “I.O.U.s’ as the record label. We are going to start the clock at zero. Mrs. Maureen Yancey [J. Dilla’s mother] raised all three of the group members. Jay Dee was an instrumental figure and founder of Slum Village. We don’t want to see Mrs. Yancey struggling, so we are going to do the same for her. She is having real tough times right now. And we are going to try and develop some investments so that these woman can have some residual income, so we don’t have to go down this path again. We started this thing 17 years ago. And now that people have died and moved on these people have families and they hope that thing could have taken care of them as well too. They dedicated their lives for them to be who they were. Please do not bootleg the upcoming Villa Manifesto album. I know that this would be a relief on those two of the founding members that were part of Slum to at least know something is going to happen. Who would want to see their mothers in need?