Detroit Deli is the most interesting hip-hop release of the year. In a time when relevance and longevity are practically sworn enemies and mixtapes are championed over full-length albums, Slum Village gets my respect for making a record that defies conventional wisdom.
The smooth vibes found in songs like “Closer,” “Old Girl/Shining Star” and the Kanye West-assisted “Selfish” give soulful nods to early-’90s pioneers like Large Professor and Pete Rock. “Do You” gets throwback props for its once-played-out-but-now-retro sampling of “More Bounce to the Ounce” and a guest spot from MC Breed, and “Dirty” oddly pairs current Villagers T3 and Elzhi with Dirt McGirt. Sometimes-member Jay Dee also drops by for “Reunion.”
Deli scores points for being varied and concise (at just twelve songs and only one skit — which is actually good), but they’d be well-advised to make things a bit more fluid. Read through that last paragraph again and try to figure out what the hell the Artist Formerly Known As O.D.B. has to do with Slum Village. T3 and Elzhi dive face first into that common rap trap known as contradiction — telling it like it is while trying to endorse how it should be. Much of this involves their lyrics about women, which, with the exception of the positive “Old Girl,” explain how much they’d like to have sex with them.
There’s plenty to digest here; you may just end up only half-full.