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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

 For those that picked up last years J-88 “The Look Of Love” 12″ on Germany’s Groove Attack imprint than you probably figured out the trio is in actuality the enigmatic Slum Village. By enigmatic, I mean, not only has this crew seen massive amounts of hype from both established artists and the press they also have curiously gotten away with releasing close to nothing. Minus Jay Dee’s often lent production talents (Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde, Common among many others), the SV have had one soundtrack appearance (“Get This Money” from Office Space) and one cameo (“The Lonius” from Common’s latest release) oh yeah and their first album which no one actually seems to own. That’s not to say you can’t find their product though, because these Detroitian’s have probably also been bootlegged more than any other group this past year, having at least two separate LPs available as well as small handful of white-label singles. So what’s the big fuss about? That’s the hard part, because lyrically the S are far from remarkable. Sticking to simple rhyme schemes and tales of pure fuckery, they teeter along understandability like the cat with 40 in one hand and the blunt and microphone squeezed in the other at the late night house party. So then it must be Jay-Dee right? That is a good bet, his slow-flow and infectious rhythms alone or with The Ummah (or isn’t that pretty much the same?) are captivating with the utmost subtlety. But it’s together that the team strangely enough creates the most bump, harmoniously RL Altman III and Titus Clover bounce back and forth over Jay’s sonic-ality like a fuzzed out Nice & Smooth.

Best Kept Secret is 5 tracks, an intro and 3 remixes, but since the SV seem more apt to ‘ride-the-rhythm’ per-say, it’s hard to differentiate between original versions and remixes without the record-sleeve in hand. Opening up is the aforementioned single and probably the most rich song within, “Look Of Love”, which sports a beautiful string loop and Jay Dee’s crisper-than-KFC’s-extra-crispy drums. Although the “to the bitches that love dick and masterbate, no need for that and get down for Rap and say word” line is a little questionable in the midst of the “you know what love is, you know what love is” hook. The Lootpack’s Madlib assists with two remixes, his re-tooling of “The Things You Do” adds a neck snap kick and snare combo with some equally vibed-out keys as anything Dee’s touched.

And while the original of “Get It Together” with its James Brown interpolations gets the nod, it’s IG Culture’s “Basement Jerks Mix” off-kilter drum programming that scores the extra point. So what it boils down to is first, whether you are able to get down to Jay Dee’s subtle, smooth, simplicity. Second, if you’re able to tolerate some often nonsensical lyricism that is vocally crafted much like their producers soundscapes, then you will be able to appreciate J-88 otherwise known as Slum Village. With the legit full length set to be released through L.A.’s Goodvibe relatively soon, this tasty double vinyl EP is the prefect sampler to whether or not you can slum it enough it chill in the village.

  Mixtape D.L.
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