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Slum Village :: FUN – RapReviews

If you review a Slum Village album, you mention J Dilla. It’s practically a law. I’m not even complaining about that fact. I bring it up for two reasons: SV would never have existed without him, and in several iterations his younger brother Illa J (John Derek Yancey) was prominently featured. The elder Yancey’s death continues to haunt rap decades later, tragically followed a few years later by the death of SV’s Baatin (Titus Glover). With so much heaviness surrounding the hearts of some Detroit diesel emcees, you wouldn’t have been surprised if the SV engine had suffered a block attack. Somehow through various setups and formations, although Slum Village has survived to this day.

“FUN” is a very tight album, both in length and quality. With a length of 31 minutes and 12 songs without interludes, the album flies by and immediately demands a second listen. The group’s current lineup is bolstered by Young RJ on the boards and T3 on the mic. The latter has been SV since the beginning and RJ was “day two”, so I like this setup. Would I have liked to see Elzhi return? Naturally. I consider him part of the family since he intervened when Baatin had health problems. Would it have been wrong to see Illa J here? Absolutely not. I like having Yancey representation on every SV project. Respect to both men as their solo careers currently have them moving in different directions. I’m not sure if anyone has contacted them for this and I can’t imagine there is any animosity if no one does. Time keeps moving no matter what.

The Detroit/Dilla flavor is still kept strong with guest appearances like Phat Kat on “All Live Pt. 2,” Fat Ray on “Keep Dreaming” and Karriem Riggins’ crunchy drumming on “Yeah Yeah.” It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that these were some of Dilla’s favorite people when he was alive. That’s what I mean when I say his ghost haunts us – even when his brother isn’t there, James Yancey is still there. You can feel it in the air on a Slum Village album when the atmosphere is right. ‘So Superb’ is spot on with the same Bob James sample that Run-DMC made famous on ‘Peter Piper’, combining that comforting backdrop with smooth soul soothing jazz and lyrics that “Don’t worry about problems when they arise.”

If I see Slum Village a ensemble if you act on this point it would only be as a compliment. I could accept just about any setup or combination as long as RJ or T3 was involved, and both on “FUN” are more than sufficient. The album lives up to its name by making you laugh as you listen, and the artwork lifts your spirits. The trends have been going in the opposite direction for a while now, to the point where it’s cool to be relentlessly negative. Drink too much, smoke too much, pay attention to the opps and police at all times. Not SV. You can let your guard down for half an hour and just get into the groove, and that’s as worthy a tribute to J Dilla’s legacy as you could wish for.

Slum :: FUN

8Total score