?uestlove on Slum Village “I’m Always [email protected]#$n Wit Chu”

August 2, 2009

In honor of Baatin’s passing, ?uestlove spoke on Slum Village and their “demo cum album that inspired a movement.” Here’s what he had to say:

?uestlove’s part Eulogy/Apology Letter/Manifesto on his favorite group Slum Village….a decade after the fact.

respect to t-3 for having to hold more weight on your shoulders than most should right about now…..

spring of 1997

before the Internet and me were a marriage made in hell i actually communicated with my friends the hard way….
the telephone.

it wouldn’t matter if i was in Wisconsin or Warsaw. I’d be on the phone longer than i could afford to be in hotels running up the bill back in the day.

and this was before shawn gee had the genius monopoly business sense in managing for us and helping us overcome the deep water of the rap business (or ye, wayne, drake, keri, jill, com and others) back when we were sharing rooms and doing shows for a 10th of what we make now.

one very expensive night when i was in cologne germany i heard a 10 second snippet followed by d’angelo and qtip snickering that they up on something that i aint hip to yet. so not wanting to miss out my broke ass called new york city and i made d’angleo play me the entire Fantastic Vol 1 tape from start to finish. (the were 20 songs at the most 1:00/2:00) my god it was like tribe and de la soul on acid!

that was the last time i was jaw dropped in music from a fan standpoint. it was so incredible i didn’t even feel threatened by them. i was like FINALLY SOMETHING TO INSPIRE ME! they manged to squeeze the last bit of life out of that innocent period of hip hop in which you made music with your peers in mind (not your press). you were going to sleep tryna imagine ghost and rae rewinding the tape likem”the hell they just say?” you wanted to walk through the spot like nino brown and have flav blow up your spot in the dj booth. i STILL create music from that level of wondering what “what’s his face” thinking while they peep this, may not matter in today’s climate but it matters to me if black milk gives me dap on a song or if erick sermon likes whatever trick i cooked up.

that night back in 97 what i heard as my phone bill went to an astounding $300 dollars (i semi stiffed the club promoter, but he caught our agent out there and they took it out my pay for that summer tour) i can’t describe what i heard. it was new, invigorating and JUST what the doctor ordered. it was the spark plug jump you needed to help your car to go that extra 400 miles as you travel cross country in a deserted road.

i miss those days. i first heard purple rain in the phone. i first heard de la soul is dead in the phone. member that time period in music in which you played someone a song in the phone?! i wish those days could come back once more.

i know that for the last 10 years ive brushed off the inevitable task of trying to explain slum village’s importance to hip hop.

it was so much easier to target the light-years-ahead genius of J Dilla and just call it a day on some “yall mofos just dont understand.” …..sheeeeeeeeeeeeit. i guess part of me reveled on some  “im up on some shit that only certain cats with their phd in funkology can understand” i mean i had a hard time enough trying to prove that dilla is the greatest beatmaker of all time  then it was to champion the whole group.(blasphemy in the eyes of MANY in light of dre, primo, pete, quik, the squad and about 12 others—but on the low? they know what time it is)

i owe Esvee an apology. i was just as enamored with Baatin and T-3 and Dilla as emcees as i was the beats, yet i let the world crucify them as i sat by idle and saved my own skin, reputation and music rep. similar to that of a jim crow nigger lover or a silent opposer of prop 8 in a room full of conservatives.

it was too hard of an argument to even dream about winning. black people aint even built to champion anything that doesn’t offer some sort of payoff or flash. we love underdogs because at least for an underdog there is the rare chance we can witness their rise to the heavens. and in the age of the pre blog, it was this kind of silly talk that many a middle class journalist holding on to that imaginary street cred needed to blow me out the water.

but the truth is: the most fun thing about slum village was their moronic frat humor. to THIS DAY who can make bustin a move at a tupperware party as a boho in a room with a bunch of east side pig eatin niggas from detroit sound awesome?!

not since too short has hip hop heard stooopid level’s of beautiful misogyny over (and this is the plus for Slum) the BEST musical backdrop in the history of 90’s hip hop.

yes i did crossed that line.

in honor of Baatin’s passing im finna honor his whole group and the demo cum album that inspired a movement.

Fans of Fantastic know EXACTLY where they were when they first heard this tape. i was fortunate enough to get a tape straight from dilla.

full of crazy imagery that would fit at home on Critical Beatdown (“all you gotta do is grip yo meat, massage her, laugh with her, take a bath with her….devour her)

full of middle school wolf ticket inside jokes worthy of “Skip 2 My Loop” era De La (heads TOTALLY catch them trying to figure (and clown) the words to Escape’s “Just Kickin It” but ABSOLUTELY miss them ragging Color Me Badd’s sophomore flop “Time & Change” right before the lines faster than a bullet, blink and you missed it  “Fat Cat Song”)

and heavy on east side detroit shit talking.

they just always made me wished i was in on the joke. (shit, maybe the joke was on me, cause lord knows after 60/70 listens i done caught many an inside joke with them snarkin on a cat or two and always wondering in the back of my head would they clown me just as hard.

they truly made an art of rhythmic talking:

“Fantastic pt 1” although not singing, THIS is how i wished the hypeman would back up their emcees.

most try to “outddo” the emcee in the name of “keeping it HYPE! when in actuality they are gunning for that number one slot (Hov!)—the :52 mark of dilla “harmonizing” with baatin is a prime example of some lampin in the back of the class, smokin while teacher’s back is turned coolness….

“ayo…..wheelin…..dealin… flow….oh……down low huh………”

nothing remarkable. but again it was all in the attitude that won me over. they adlib’d and ish tawked better than ANY group i knew.

i mean wu tang made an art out of adlibs to the point that once lauryn hill’s grafted rae’s overused “a yo  a yo….yo yo yo yo” came into play it was a tad stale.

slum village left no onomatopoeia or  senegalesesque pronounced stone unturned.

THAT was the charm of Slum Village: they were regular cats who went over the heads of regular cats and gunned for the higher level cats

to mortals, t-3’s entry in “i don’t know” (“im influenced to like…schhchhhhhh *his trademarked inhale/sigh/sucking teeth noise*… yknow”) is just plain “whatever”—but to cats that (dare i take this license?) “who knew what time it was” said ALL of his lines were CRAZY. and CRAZY was beautiful. Nas could “props is a true thugs wife”/”sleep is the cousin of death” all he wants—-im “wearing your mama like a lambskin”.

t3’s Look of Love’s pronunciation of “sa-lutt” or “spllinnnderNESS” or taking 4 secs to pronounce the word “yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss”; or the “tchcht!” sound sandwiched in between “Beej N Dem”‘s (you want it boy and you know who “tchcht!” got it) or even the purposed fumble of at the 1:00 mark of his solo version of “pregnant”—only for him to praise himself 4 seconds later with (“what’s that shit i said? that shit is FRESH!”) to me? was where it was AT!

—we’d just sit there  for hours hypnotized like “these dudes are so crazy” the fact that words to them were percussion and drums more than a means of communication was right up my alley. just listen to the adlib subliminal magic of the “fantastic 2 and 3 interludes”—absolutely makes no sense. but they say it SO SOULFUL and FUNKY that it truly doesn’t matter. for all i care they can sing the dictionary and they could manage to wrangle some funky way of pronouncing aardvark.

breath control, alliteration, ignorance, snark, humor, inside jokes, soul, excitement, spontaneous spurts, edge, and innovation.

its that sh–tcchcht—ayo.


1 Comment »

  1. Young H Goes In says:

    […] ?uestlove took to heaping endless amounts of praise (much like my adulation for Odd Future) upon Tribe’s midwestern foul mouthed relatives Slum […]

    March 7th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

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