What an amazing opportunity it was to reconnect with Slum Village! We had the opportunity of running a campaign with Slum back with the release of Detroit Deli. More than ten years have passed since that time, and a the commonality is a lot has changed on both ends. Obviously, we're UGD now, and following a series of unforeseeable changes, they have re-sculpted the brand that they worked so diligently to build over the past fifteen years!
A lot is going on for T3, Young RJ & Illa J these days. They are on the heels of releasing their new album "Yes!", which will be available to the world in just few short days. Led by the singles "Expressive" and "Right Back" which features De La Soul, things are looking pretty good for the trio.
Much of our conversation involved us just catching up and rehashing the legacy they've built throughout the years, but they definitely shed light on a few things, including why it was so important that they continue to keep the legacy of J Dilla alive, the changes they've seen in the industry in their years here, and just what they like most about the new age. Most importantly, they give us the full rundown on what to expect from "Yes!"....
Urban Grandstand Digital: I really appreciate you guys for your time today. Obviously, we just set everything up yesterday, and the new album is coming. I’m loving the new single, as is most people, but I’m grateful for you. It’s been probably ten years since I spoke with you guys. We did a pretty big campaign for Detroit Deli, but this is good. There’s been so many changes within the group, most uncontrollable, and J Dilla was such a huge part. The new single was produced by him, right?
Slum Village: Yes, it was…
Urban Grandstand Digital: There’s a lot to be said about that. Obviously, your loyalty has remained strong, and you clearly have lots of timeless material with him. Why was it so important for Right Back” to be out there?
Slum Village: This really is like a throwback album. We had beats we were working with in the past, and we felt like it was time now. We wanted to bring it all back full circle, with some Baatin lyrics, and Dilla rhymes and beats, and the new stuff with J, and mix it all together. You know, I think good music is good music. It still sounds like a great record. Initially, I wrote a verse and sent it to De La, and then Posdnuos sent his verse back. once I heard it verse, I wanted to tell a more in-depth story, and that’s why we decided to do that record. Beat wise, it’s a classic Dilla beat that people never heard from the archives. It was a timeless record.
Urban Grandstand Digital: How much is left from Dilla, in terms of archives?
Slum Village: We got some stuff. We got beats here and there because we have so much history. We have some early slum stuff, quite a few records.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What has kept you guys out here? Obviously people know of you, and they’re still checking for you, but being realistic in it all, it’s been 16 years now. Time has passed, and when that happens, people don’t necessarily check anymore.
Slum Village: That’s true, but I think it’s because we’re consistent. We’ve done an album almost every two years. We’re always working because we do what we love, and love what we do. That’s the main part of it. I think if you do that, it works. I think sometimes people do music for the wrong reasons.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I actually want to make sure we highlight that comment as well, because that’s something we push and promote, which is people doing what they love to do and following their passion and dreams. When you do that, you can’t go wrong.
Slum Village: I don’t think you can go wrong. People get lost in the sauce though, and do music for the wrong reasons. This si my passion, so I did it for that reason. It’s hard for a lot of people to find their passion. I was lucky enough to find mine early in my career, and I stuck to it.
Urban Grandstand Digital: In terms of the new material, do you sense any difficulty in promoting, and continuing to build the fanbase while holding on to the original fanbase?
Slum Village: I think it’s just beginning to merge back. We had a few situations where we lost members, and things happened. By continuing to put out music, we gained new fans, and now I feel like some of the old fans are coming back and recognizing the consistency. The foundation hasn’t really changed. I been there since the beginning, and Young RJ has been there since the beginning, but behind the scenes. It ain’t like there’s people who was never affiliated.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Exactly. There’s a lot of people too who don’t realize that Young RJ has been there since the beginning.
Slum Village: Right, but it’s a learning process too. Back in the day, people used to read the notes on the album, and I think you have to purchase them now to know who did what.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Right, you don’t get the liner notes anymore.
Slum Village: ...and if you did, people wouldn’t read it anymore.
Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s crazy though, because I was one that faithfully read the liner notes on cds when I bought them.
Slum Village: I think that now, people only know by seeing the consistency. Sometimes, it takes some longer than others.
Urban Grandstand Digital: You’ve mentioned consistency more than once now, and I think that is what has kept you guys there. You’re doing good music for the world, and the new single, again, a lot of people will appreciate the fact that you connected with De La Soul. It’s keeping that era of good music alive and in the forefront. So many people don’t know they’re history. I still play 3 feet High & Rising, so I definitely appreciate hearing you guys with them
Slum Village: Right, and I mean, those are guys that we admire musically, and of course they’re good friends. When we get a chance to bring a record together, we do it and it sounds good. We love those guys.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So right back is doing pretty good. What else can we look for?
Slum Village: We got some more singles dropping. Our next single will be with Bilal, on another Dilla track.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Man, I haven’t heard from him in a while either.
Slum Village: Right, that’s our next single. He’s been doing his thing. He did his thing on the Kendrick album, and he just dropped his record. We have a video coming for that single. We’ve got some more records, and we’ll shoot some videos. We’re also going to Europe next month. We’re just working, and keeping it moving.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Did you guys work with Dwele at all?
Slum Village: No we didn’t, we actually worked with BJ the Chicago Kid on this album, but we’ve got so many records with Dwele.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Honestly though, that’s what a lot of people love about your brand though.
Slum Village: Dwele is a very super talented artist, and still our homie, but not on this album. Maybe on a remix though. That’s definitely our family though.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What else is happening? Obviously, this album is enough, but anything else?
Slum Village: RJ may drop a beat album, and then we may do some albums next year. We’re just working. We’re building new groups, Rosewood 2055, a new group we’re working with, and we’re keeping the brand and legacy going.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What are the biggest differences you see in the industry now, vs ten and fifteen years ago?
Slum Village: It’s harder now. It;s more music and harder to get noticed. There’s so much riff raft before you get to the good stuff. Back in the day, if a guy had made it to the studio, nine times out of ten he had worked on his craft for so long that he was decent. Now, you wake up today and wasn’t to rap, and you’re on youtube by the night.
Urban Grandstand Digital: You hit the nail right on the head. You have a lot of people who post a youtube video and it’s viral. There no longer is the factor where you really had to bust your ass to get a deal or get someone to notice. People sign you just like that now, so it becomes more difficult to weed through the garbage.
Slum Village: It’s definitely more difficult, but what I do like about the new age is the business sense. People really handle their business now so if they do pop, they know what to do. Thats a plus for the new generation.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Any final comments at all?
Slum Village: Just expect a lot of great things from Slum beyond music. We’re always rapping Dilla and Baatin. We want people to know that, and to know that we embrace this Detroit culture that we are a part of.