Slum Village has been through a lot, with label drama, group drama, and every other problem that a crew could go through. But through it all they persist and grow with each release. I sat down with Elzhi and he cleared some things up for the hip-hop world (T3 was sleeping in the background) Here’s what he had to say.
Let’s get right into it, “Reunion”, can you explain that a little bit. There are a lot of rumors floating about a diss to Dilla or to Baatin. Break It Down.
The reunion is a song that I came up with. Black Milk made the beat from BR Gunna, and it sounds like classic Slum Village. I thought we all needed to be on it, I wrote a battle verse raw and uncut like nobody could fuck with the S. Then T3 wrote his verse, than Dilla was down. Then we hollered and Baatin, but he never got back and I heard he was saying a bunch of things on the internet about the group and the incident about us kicking him out. But, Baatin actually decided to leave the group. We had a meeting about the image of the group and Baatin was upset with the whole conversation. At that time he was sick and felt like the streets had more love than we did. Can’t really blame him, but he was saying how he was going to leave and was out. But, I been there when he was drinking and throwing up and then pouring another glass, so I been there. I was hearing how I supposedly wrote a battle verse and directed it at him? See Baatin brought me in and I would never diss him on stage. He made me a part of Slum Village, so I felt that people needed to hear the correct way it went down, so I rewrote my verse and that is the verse that ended up on the album. I spit the verse like I was talking to Baatin himself. After I wrote the verse Baatin heard it over the phone, and I asked him if any of it was out of line, and he was laughing. I was like why you laughing, he said “why go in the past, man”. I just let him know that the people be asking about you and they want to know what’s up with Teezy (Baatin), so it’s all love between Slum Village, Dilla and Baatin.
You guys have always had entertaining yet educational type videos, “Tainted” and now “Selfish”. The video is hysterical, who’s idea was that to use Ms Video Chick 2004?
The entire video was Chris Robinson’s idea. Every artist has a director that they mesh with really well. We tried to make it like an American Idol, we actually shot real girls from Detroit, New Orleans, St Louis and ATL. So all the audition tapes you see are real girls. But at the end of the video that was all shot in LA and those are the professionals.
So honestly, what the hell happed with the Trinity album, it seem like it didn’t really mesh, can you elaborate?
Trinity was not a focused album, most people didn’t understand why it sounded the way it did. Let me tell you, in the process of doing Trinity, Dilla left and went solo, which was all good because that is what he wanted to do. But doing that, we asked him to give us like 3-4 cuts we could put on the album. With Dilla doing 3 or 4 cuts we still had to find production, so we had to find beats somewhere. So we looked to Wajeed which is the guy that actually hooked up me and T3. He did beats for me when I was doing my solo thing, then we hooked up with Karim Riggins, which we have know for a minute. We also hooked up with Blackmilk and we tried to make it work. But the tracks we got from Dilla where Vol 2 sounding tracks, and we gave the tracks to Dilla to mix and he gave it back to us with the beats sounding like Techno. Which was cool cause personally I liked those songs. We had this Techno sounded music, along with the other beats we had from Karim, which as more of the old SV sound. The new sounding beats from Wajeed and Black, sounded like new SV. T3 came up with the idea of calling it Trinity, to make everything tie in with each other. That was a concept after the album was done. That concept kind of fell in our lap and with Baatin going thru the thing he went through, he wasn’t there for the majority of the album. So when you listen to the intro of Trinity and you hear the first verse which was Baatin, he wasn’t actually there, that was a verse from a song we didn’t use, we took the verse and pasted it more or less in front of our verses. “Insane” was only a song that we put on the album cause Baatin had a verse and hook to it, I just ended up writing my verse to make it longer. There were just things that we had to do on the album to make it sound like an album because everything was kind of screwy, but it was still a blessing and I don’t regret anything. From Trinity we had one of the biggest single Slum has ever had, so I know when you hear the album, just know that that album was almost not made because of the struggles that were put before us.
The album is coming now, people are saying this is your best album to date. What do you say to that?
The album drops June 29th, The album is a blessing because of the struggles that we have came across over the years. From Dilla leaving and Baatin being MIA. Me and T3 had to go into the studio and work really hard, so did the production team (BR Gunna). BR Gunna (Blackmilk and Young RJ) produced all but two cuts on the album and they worked really hard. There are like 14 songs on the album but we recorded close to 50 songs, so we cut a lot. I think this is one of our most focused albums to date, this album is different from the others because we got personal. Slum village has never gotten personal, but on this album we talk about single parent mothers, are mothers, and the struggle of Slum Village. I feel this is one of the most progressive album.
You have some interesting guests on this new album, Dirt McGirt aka Ol Dirty Bastard and MC Breed, how did those collaborations come about?
Well, me and T3 are big fan of ODB, so the label got in contact with Roc-a-fell so we could get ODB on the album. MC Breed is one of the pioneers to come out of MI, so we felt it was only right to put him on the album, since this album represents Detroit and Michigan as whole.
The name of the album is “Detroit Deli”, how did that name come about and what does that mean?
Detroit Deli was going to be the name of my solo album, but I didn’t want to hold it off that long. We felt that Detroit has been slept on for years; we felt we needed to represent the voice for the D. Detroit Deli is a representation of what goes on in Detroit and what it’s all about. Hence the sub-title A Taste of Detroit, giving you a taste of what Detroit is all about in a way that it has never been brought to the forefront.
What are your thoughts on Detroit hip-hop, the beef? Is it all media hype or is Detroit really has hostile has it sounds?
Let me just say this, Detroit has a lot of sick emcees. I feel that Eminem is one of the best lyricist out today. But the dope part about it is you have about 30 other cats in Detroit that are on the same level as Em. Seriously, Detroit has been slept on so long, that everybody that emcees takes it serious and give 120% to every verse that is written. People like Guilty Simpson, Big Hurk, Raw Collection, Finale, Invisible (female), Moo, Athletic Mic League, Subterraneous, Binary Star, Hostile, and Phat Killas all do their thing in the D.
Is there one track on the album that you would say is your favorite joint?
Yeah, well one of my favorite tracks on the album is “Hold On”, for one it’s a personal track. I love Melanie, Melanie Rutherford is the singer on the track. I felt she came out very heartfelt, when I hear it; it touches me because it’s so real. When I play it for other people, they end up playing it back and saying it touches them like it touches me. I’m glad to let it all out and people feel my pain the process.
What is the Slum Village relation to Barak, I see Phatkat makes an appearance on the LP?
Barak Ent is the label we are under, and Capitol is our distributor. Phatkat is down with the crew, and he is also a label mate of Barak.
You have a solo effort floating around on the internet, can you tell us a little about that project and will it ever see the light of day?
The name of that project is called “Out of Focus”, I did that album with a DJ named Houseshoes and Magneto. They both did production on the album and it was actually finished in 1998. So the album is like 5 or 6 years old. It’s a blessing that it is getting a lot good response, and personally I didn’t know it was on the internet till a couple of weeks ago. But, I don’t think the album will ever see the light of day, so it’s a good thing it is on the internet. The reason being, the material is old and you know their maybe a problem with labels.
Will any of the other guys be branching out and doing solo efforts, if so what labels and when can we expect those albums to drop?
Slum Village will eventually do solo efforts, but I can only speak to Elzhi. I’m not going anywhere till Slum Village is a household name. Once SV is a household name, that’s when I consider doing a solo effort. Reason being they let me in the group at a time when I was struggling and they gave me a voice in hip-hop, and if I can contribute what I do to them and get us to the top, it would be like me repaying them back for looking out for me. That’s when I will be able to go ahead and do my thing. As an artist you do want to do your solo, but not till I repay SV for showing me so much love.
Hip-Hop is in a very awkward state right now, what are you opinions on hip-hop, do you see it turning around or continuing on the downward slide?
I see hip-hop turning around. If you would have asked me that questions 3 years ago, I would have to say hip-hop is going nowhere. But with the success of Kanye, ,The Roots, Outkast, Kweli, and Common I see them opening up doors for us, as well as groups like Little Brother and allowing good music to get on the radio for once, from a hip-hop standpoint.
Anything else you want to say, shout outs, props, etc?
I just want to say thank you to all the fans that have been there for us during the label changes and during group changes and for that we are just going to continue to make good music the best way that you can. We appreciate all y’all that are checking for SV.
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