After the success of their 2000 debut, Fantastic, Vol. 2, Detroit's Slum Village garnered high praise and lofty comparisons to A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. The follow-up album from the group -- a rotating cast that originally included Baatin, Jay Dee and T3 but is now comprised of T3 and Elzhi -- 2002's Trinity: Past Present and Future, failed to meet expectations, with signs pointing to internal problems.
But on the strength of the recently released Kanye West-blessed single "Selfish," Slum Village has released their strongest LP yet, Detroit Deli. Baatin's decision to leave the group for personal reasons means Slum Village is once again down one member, but T3 and Elzhi have created a more focused album, fully representing Detroit's underrepresented hip-hop scene. Prefix caught up with Elzhi, who set the record straight on Slum Village's relationship with Baatin and Jay Dee and talked about future projects and hip-hop's golden age.
Prefix Magazine: With artists like Eminem, D12, Royce, Obie Trice, Slum Village, Jay Dee, Frank 'n' Dank, do you think Detroit is finally getting respect for its contributions to hip-hop?
Slum Village: Part One: I think Eminem got a lot of respect, and in some ways I think Royce got respect in the underground. But as far as SV, D-12, Obie Trice and bunch of cats that's trying to get their names out, I think they sleeping. We've had a lot of success with our single "Selfish," but before that, everybody was trying to sleep on the S. We're hoping to change that around, because the city is musically inclined. The city is known for being Rock City, Motown and the funk capital. With all of that music, I don't know how we can be slept on, but we are. PM: Recently T3 has referred to Slum Village as kind of like the Temptations in the sense that you change members and are able to still maintain the same sound. We heard the Internet chatter, what's your relationship to Baatin?
Slum Village: Part One: Me and Baatin are still cool. T3 and Baatin are still cool. I think I talk to Baatin a little bit more than 3 do. But everybody is still peace. Baatin dealt with some issues. He was dealing with issues before we made Trinity and it just got worse after. He wanted to leave the group, and I don't know really if it was the influence. I don't know if it was him or the issues he was dealing inside himself, but he left the group because he wanted to leave. And we really couldn't say too much about that. But at the same time, when he left it was more than just music, and we was worried about the brother. Whenever we tried to call, he wouldn't accept the call. He stated that he left because he felt everybody in the streets had more love for him than the group. I knew that was a lie off the bat, because we had many different episodes on the road were I sat down with him and I told him he needed to slow down on the drinking and just chill out. We always had that kind of friendship where we never held our tongue; we really spoke and never sugar-coated anything. It still lasted. I go over from time to time we might smoke a little blizzle. We still homeboys, man. Everything is love. PM: On the new album, Detroit Deli, is the track "Reunion," featuring Jay Dee. Could this lead to more collaborations with Dilla?
Slum Village: Part One: Yeah man, we're trying to get Dilla to do a least five or six for the next one. We put Dilla in the video. He got a short little part. If you take the video and slow it down toward the end, you see Dilla and Phat Kat. But Dilla is still fam. Just like Baatin, Dilla wanted to do a solo thing, and there is no beef there. Dilla wanted to breakout and wanted to have an individual voice, and we ain't mad at that. 'Cause in a minute, after this next next album, I'm going to do a solo thing. So is T3. Everybody wants to have a little individual voice. There's going to be a lot more work to come with us and Dilla. And when I do my solo joint, there going to be a lot of Dilla on that. PM: To the surprise of many, you guys were able to bring in Ol' Dirty for this project. How did that collaboration come about?
Slum Village: Part One: SV listens to all different types of music, from Sergio Mendez, Radiohead, Coldplay and T.I. to Organized Konfusion. Ol' Dirty is classic, going back in the day with Brooklyn Zoo, the old 36 Chambers and Wu-Tang Forever. When we heard Ol' Dirty was out man, that's who we wanted to work with. He brings the energy to the mike like no other. I feel like he's a character; everyone can appreciate what he brings to the table. So it was a blessing Capital was able to hook that up for us. I think it came out right.