In comparison to the successful groups/teams before them, The Motor City’s equivalent of Chauncey Billups running point (Elzhi) and Ben Wallace controlling the paint (T3), of the lyrically profound, Slum Village are back with their fourth album by the same name to reassure you of one thing… this album was built with the love of their diehard fans in mind.
At the time of our scheduled conversation, Elzhi wasn’t available, but the show still went on. We were originally scheduled for a 2-on-2 exclusive. This is why you will not only read questions from Fever, but from Fever as well. Get to know… Slum Village
Fever: Ok, let’s start this off with an easy question for you… where did the name Slum Village derive from?
T3: It derived from Detroit, Michigan. The city is grimy in certain areas, but it’s still a community. That’s the best way that I can describe the origins of the Slum Village name.
Fever: After already having 3 albums released, why was this the right time to finally release a self-titled album?
T3: This is actually an easy question. You see, we’ve had a lot of drama, a lot of member changes, and a lot of different situations that we had to go through. This was the second album that Elzhi and I completed together. It took us an album to gel; to build our chemistry. This is the start of a new Slum Village, so that is why we decided to self-title this release.
Fever: How many songs are on the album, and describe to us the selection process on which songs made the final cut?
T3: This album came together nicely because it was a tribute to the old Slum sound. We wanted to continue to push the boundaries of our music, and that we have. This time around we recorded like 20 songs, and picked 13 to 14 songs from that. Usually we record like 40 to 50 songs, and then pick about 20 to go on the album. But Elzhi and I really came together on this project, which made this album the quickest album that Slum Village has ever completed.
Fever: Is there a song that you’ve released in the past that you feel because you weren’t as known at the time, didn’t get the credit that it deserved?
T3: A few songs. I feel that “Tainted” was a good song for us. But I feel that we’re the type of group that our peers respect us, and we have devoted followers of our music. There was a few times where we had (recording) artists walk up to us and tell us that we were their favorite group; that they loved our music. It just feels good to be the artists that other artists listen to. We’ve done a lot so far, including the Chevy commercials that are currently being aired. People still think that we are underground, which we are, but that’s only when our sound is concerned. We’ve done too much to still be considered, in the shadows…
Fever: In which ways do you prefer tackling the songwriting process?
T3: There are two ways that we prefer to tackle it. Music is always first for us… 99% of the time. We don’t write anything without the music being there first, because to us it’s like an even marriage. I don’t want to just put lyrics to beats that don’t fit, musically. For me, when I write, I don’t write before I go into the studio. I write in the booth, on the mic while the beat is playing, because I like for my words and thoughts to be fresh. I don’t like sitting around with a beat, listening to it over and over again before I write. Now Elzhi on the other hand is different. He goes home with the beat to write his joints. So whoever writes to the beat first, or come up with the concept, we’ll build off of that idea.
Fever: In 2004, you collaborated on a song with Kanye West and John Legend called, “Selfish.” Would you say that this was the song that made Slum Village a household name?
T3: I would say, “Yes”, to the fact that it made us a household name. Kanye was making a huge impact at the time of that release and John Legend was a rising star at the time. We came in and did our part as Slum Village… the video was heavily requested. Everything came together on “Selfilsh”.
Fever: From the Slum Village album, if you only had 10 minutes to give a live performance to your diehard fans, which songs from the album would you choose to perform, and why?
T3: We would most likely take pieces from 4 or 5 of the songs. We would definitely choose “The Intro” because it describes what the album is about; our struggles and the situations that we’ve been through. We would perform “1, 2” because it shows lyrical acrobatics and we’re really styling on that. Then it would be joints like “Oh Five” which I love because of the live instruments and the energy that we bring to it. We would also do our current single as well.
Fever: No matter what has gone down with Slum Village, the one consistency has been your home label BARAK RECORDS. Tell us about what’s currently happening with the label and about anyone else who may emerge from your label.
T3: There’s a couple of artists on Barak that are doing their thing. B.R. Gunna is a group, as well as a producing team. They are working on their album. There’s also Emelee on the label. You can go to www.BarakRecords.com to check them out.
Fever: Any last comments for our readers?
T3: I’d just like to thank our fans for the unbelievable support that they have given us up to this point and beyond. We are currently working on setting up a College Tour, so that we can get up close and personal with a huge part of our fan base. The album “Slum Village” is in stores, gas stations, Mom & Pop’s, and anywhere else that you choose to find your music, right now.