WL: I spoke with Black Milk recently and he told me told me ya’ll are working on a new album.
WL: How is that coming along?
Elzih: Man, we like six songs deep into it and already it’s amazing. It’s some of the best work we’ve ever done.
T3: This album, when this album comes out…(laughs) Creatively, nobody is gonna be able to mess with it when it comes out.
T3: No one!
WL: Not even Michael Jackson..Off the wall Michael?
T3: Ok, Michael Jackson (laughs). Other than Michael Jackson, no!
PHAT KAT: I’ll vouch for that!
T3: (laughs) He’s the only one that heard it, it’s only a couple people that heard it.
WL: Well, Black Milk heard it…
T3: Yeah, of course he did. He did about two joints on there so far.
WL: A critical question…Black Milk told me that on this album..
T3: Black Milk been telling you a lot of things, huh? (laughs)
WL: Yeah, he was.. He was telling me a whole bunch of things about your album (laughs).
T3: Ok..What did he say?
WL: He told me that with this album, you’re going for a more commercial sound, a sound to reach a broader audience. And I don’t know if you agree with this, but he said it was kind of like what the Black Eyed Peas are doing.. And the first thing I thought was like…Word? I don’t know, do you agree with what he said?
T3: It is a broader audience, that is true. (laughs) I’m kinda mad at him for saying that. But it is a broader audience that we’re going for. We got a new guy that’s on six songs so far; his name is Ab. He’s a singer.
WL: Is that the one who was on tour with you last year?
WL: He’s real good!
T3: He’s on six of our songs, so you know what this album is gonna be like! (grins)
WL: Yeah definitely.. I heard him last year on your tour..
T3: So you know!! (laughs)
WL: Yeah, and I actually asked him if he was gonna be on any future Slum Village releases.
T3: I’m also working on his album too right now.
WL: Oh ok…I’m gonna have to ask you more about that later.
WL: Another thing I was thinking about when Black Milk said that about the Black Eyed Peas kind of sound..
T3: It’s not like Black Eyed Peas! It’s a broader audience.
WL: Yeah, a broader audience. I was just wondering how you think your long time fans are gonna respond to that?
T3: They’re gonna love this album! It’s still ridiculous. It’s still soulful. And it’s still us. It’s ridiculous. The first single we got featuring Ab is ridiculous. The second single we got with Ab again, is ridiculous. Ab don’t even sound the same. One song we sounds like Prince, the next song he sounds like D’Angelo. The cat’s ridiculous. I’m just gonna tell you. For real. You’re gonna love it. And the first single is about dancing, actually. And you can imagine Slum Village doing a song about dancing.
WL: I can..
T3: Ok..You’ll like it then (laughs) But nah; maybe that’s the second single. We don’t wanna hit you too hard.
WL: Yeah, you don’t wanna come with the first single and make people think that all that Slum is about.
T3: It’s still soulful though. It’s very soulful. This album is still very soulful. It’s more like Kanye than Black Eyed Peas. You know Kanye is a lil more commercial; it’s not as underground as Common. It’s more on that line really. But we don’t wanna say it’s like Kanye. That’s the closest comparison we can make.
WL: Speaking of songs about dancing. I’ve always been wondering, do rappers make „songs for the ladies” because they enjoy making them or just because it’s a marketing thing, because ladies buy more records.
T3: I enjoy ladies, ok? (laughs) I love making songs about ladies.
Elzih: True, I mean it’s too many hard legs in Hip Hop. So we need to bring the ladies into the spot so they can enjoy the music. We need something for them to come in and enjoy the music. Then once they are there we got their ears and then they can like other things that we present to them as well.
WL: But do you really believe that ladies can only appeal to the dancing songs?
T3: No, no. We don’t just do dancing songs.
Elzih: It’s certain women that just love Hip Hop music and it’s certain women that don’t know about Hip Hop music. As well as fellas, you know what I’m saying? So sometimes we may do ladies songs for them to come to the show, once they’re at the show then we can hit them with other things that we have that they may particularly like as well.
T3: We feel like the songs we made with Kanye and John Legend, that’s a song for the ladies. It’s not really a dance song but it’s a song that ladies can appreciate.
WL: Slum Village has been in the game for a pretty long time..
T3: Well not really. We’re kinda old but new.
WL: We’ll I think it’s a long time if you look at it nowadays because longevity is not found so often nowadays in the rap game. There are so many one hit wonders now. How come Slum Village keeps adapting to the current hip hop scene? How do ya’ll do that?
T3: I think we had a fountain of youth, actually. But I feel like this man, Hip Hop artists should be able to do Hip Hop until they’re 60, just like any other artist in the game, R&B, soul, jazz and rock. I mean, you’re gonna get older, right? You’re still gonna like Hip Hop, right?
WL: Of course..
T3: So what are you saying? Why it gotta end for you? I feel like, as long as our audience is getting older we’ll still always have a audience to do this shit.
WL: Are you saying you’re always rocking with the same audience?
Elzih: Nah, we evolve you know? Like the last album don’t sound like this new album. And the last album don’t sound like the one before. So we always evolving and changing and flippin to get the new ears. We’re keeping it still Slum so the people that were rocking with us before can still vibe off what we doing.
T3: Plus, we put a little bit of crack on every CD so they get addicted (laughs).
WL: For the people who don’t know, how did Slum Village start?
T3: That’s a long, long journey.
WL: short version?
T3: When it first started it was me, J. Dilla and Baatin. J.Dilla left to do the MCA thing. Slum Village kept going. I was managing Elzih, brought Elzih in.
(Somebody in the back) Way back when?
T3: When we did “Trinity”. Just before we did “Trinity”, I started managing Elzih. He stepped in for the “Trinity”. He was only gonna be a feature artits, made him a member. Baatin had some mental illness. Baatin left. Me and Elzih. The Story. In a short condensed version.
WL: You’re the only original member that’s left in the group.
T3: Which you can say.
WL: Does it still feel like the Slum Village to you that you formed?
WL: What’s different about it?
T3: We evolved it. Elzih brought some new, young energy to the group, that I think we needed for us to progress. And, with me, I was forced into this position. I didnt want to be that guy. Dilla left on his own. Baatin left on his own. I didnt have a choice. I could either be like alot of groups that fall by the wayside. Like A tribe called quest, or maybe Pharcyde, Leaders of the new school. All of them great groups. But I decided to keep the legacy poppin. And it just so happened that we get more and more successful each time so I guess God is on our side. Thats all I can say about it.
WL: One question for you, Elzih. You stepped in when ya’ll were recording the “Trinity” album, right after Dilla left. Did you feel pressure, like you had to fill his shoes?
Elzih: Nah, because I never thought that I was taking his place like that. I always looked at myself as T3s artist. And basically he was showcasing me on the album so I was just showing what I could do to a certain extend. I come from like a more battle background. So I didnt wanna go too crazy on it, I kinda just wanted to do a lil somethin somethin and still keep the Slum vibe going. So I guess thats all I was focusing on. I never thought like “damn, I gotta fill his shoes” or nothing like that because I never looked at it like I was replacing anybody. So El was just doing him, you know what I’m saying? Like we say, it’s a evolution. I never replaced Dilla. Dilla left, I came into the picture, bam, the evolution started.
WL: Why the J-88 release? Were you having trouble with the label at that time?
T3: No. We always had different groups in our group. We had J-88, we had Slum Village, we had ESBEE, which is another Slum Village group, also we had The V, which is the rock version of Slum Village. We got alot of different things that we do. We just wanted to create different groups, create different identities because we got so much talent and so much music we can come out with.
WL: How was the relationshop with Dilla after he left?
T3: I mean, we was good man. We had a friendly rivalry. We did. We were always like “Yeah man, get on this, get on that.” We had a friendly rivalry. But as you can tell, he was always on every Slum Village album. Except for the self titled. So it was still love, we were still working together.
Elzih: Yeah, I mean, we were supossed to do an album together.
T3: A reunion album.
Elzih: Slum Village was supossed to do an album together and I was supposed to do an album with him too. That’s where “Love it here” came from, other songs that we did. I think a song called “Checkmate”. I dont know if you ever heard of that. We were supposed to do a little solo album.
WL: Yeah, I was gonna ask you if you had some projects planned before his death. So they didnt happen because he passed?
WL: Do you have any Dilla beats left to use on future releases?
T3: It is hard on that tip. Niggas raped them Dilla beats. I’m gonna be honest with you. All sixteen volumes of them beats. Niggas have raped them. But I got something in store, a couple of little jewels.
WL: For the next album?
T3: It’s not for the next album. We’re gonna do a tribute album to Dilla. As soon as his Moms gets out of court. Because she’s in court for the rights of Dillas name. With different attorneys. So we would’ve already dropped the tribute album by now. But for the Slum Village album, no. But for a Dilla tribute album featuring Slum Village, yes, it’s gonna go down. And hopefully we’ll get to do it sometime next year. So we can really show people how to do a real tribute to my mans, my peoples! And it’s gonna be all Detroit cats. All people who worked with Dilla, Black Milk, QD, Phat Kat, Elzih, Big Tone, Ta’raach, Wajeed, Baatin, all of the cats. It’s gonna be Detroit love on this one.
WL: Can’t wait to hear that! What did you first think about reuniting with Baatin for the track “Action” on Black Milks record?
T3: (laughs) Baatin…Look, we don’t got no beef with Baatin. He’s just gotta get himself together. He would be in Slum Village right now if he had himself together. He left on his own accord. I never kicked Baatin out. I got tired of seeing those rumors and tabloids and all that other crap. How am I gonna kick somebody out? I kicked Dilla out too? No, I didn’t. I didn’t kick nobody out! They left. What am I gonna do? I’m gonna keep moving or I’m gonna die. And I’m not gonna die, so..
WL: So you’re saying you could see somebody else joining the group?
T3: No, never.
WL: But you said Baatin could be in the group right now..
T3: Baatin is always a part of the group. He never left, to us. Always. But a new dude…Nobody else. No new guy. That’s it.
WL: Is Baatin doing better?
T3: Some days it’s good. Somedays it’s not. He’s supposed to be out on the road with us.
WL: Like right now?
T3: Yeah, right now. He could be here with ya’ll right now.
WL: The myspace track “Bootleggers”, who are you refering to? Are you referring to the people who download your music or the people who download and sell it on the street?
T3: That song was kind of a contradiction. Meaning, we were giving a shout out to the bootleggers in a sense, because with mixtapes it has created a new avenue for artists to still make money. And they are “bootleggers”. That’s why in the beginning on the record we gave a shoutout to DJ Drama, because he’s one of our peoples, he used to dj for us. So, you know, we gave him a shout out. We support that type of bootlegger. But at the same time we don’t support people who just take our shit and just sell it and do whatever the fuck they wanna do. So it was a lil mixture of both. Then Elzih was more talking about how bootlegged the game is. He came from a different aspect like, it aint the same, they don’t respect lyrics, they don’t respect song concepts. So that’s what he was talking about. How bootlegged the game is. So it had a bunch of meanings. And basically, what I wanted to do with that song is all the people that supported Slum Village and came to the shows and have bootlegged records and that was their only way of knowing Slum Village; I wanted them to be a part of the video for the song. But we decided not to do a video for that. We came with some more incredible stuff. Shout out to Black Milk, he did kill that track.
WL: You both had your mixtapes out, and then the “Bootleggers” track. I was wondering if there will be a Slum Village mixtape.
T3: Maybe. You know what? We’re stingy with our music (laughs). The Slum Village music. We’re kinda stingy with it..
Elzih: (laughs) Right…
WL: Speaking of Bootleggers. How has the Internet affected your music career?
T3: I think it helped more than it hurt.
WL: It helped? I think alot of people are hating on it but..
T3: If it wasn’t for the internet, you guys over here in Germany wouldn’t know about Slum Village. It’s all about the internet. I ain’t mad at myspace. What? You know how many ladies I slept with..nah I’m just kiddin (laughs). It’s a joke. I’m really just joking.
WL: You mentioned it before with Ab. I always noticed in your career you have worked alot with Neo-Soul artists. You have worked with Dwele so much, you had him on so many songs, were on his albums.
T3: Yeah, I really did.
WL: And it sounded so right. And I love that track ya’ll did with J.Isaac. It was crazy. And whenever ya’ll do a track with a Neo-Soul artist it just sounds right. And I was wondering if ya’ll could ever see yourself bringing out a Neo-Soul artist, producing one?
T3: Ab is coming. (laughs) I’m telling you. Ab is coming. It’s gonna be crazy!
Elzih: Ab is coming!
WL: So, you’re working on a new album right now. Is there anything else ya’ll are working on?
T3: Elzih is working on his solo album right now.
WL: Oh you are? Do you have any features on there, or is it just gonna be representing you?
Elzih: Right now I’m about to put T3 and Phat Kat on there. I got Royce 5’9 on there. Got a couple of my peoples from around the way. Trying to get a record with Phonte and Blu. I’m only like maybe seven songs deep, so I should be done with that in a couple months or whatever. It’s gonna be hot for real.
WL: What is it gonna sound like?
Elzih: Man..The mind of Elzih is crazy. The concepts that I have, you wont get these concepts from nobody else. I dont even wanna tell you, but it’s gonna be..when you pop in the CD you’re gonna feel like you’re inside of my world, for real.
WL: Is it gonna be very similar to the Slum sound?
Elzih: Nah, it’s gonna be its’ own sound. It’s dark, it’s bright. The concepts are just so crazy. I can’t wait for you to hear it man. I’m taking you through so much. It’s like, you know Alice in the rabbithole? That’s what I’m doing, I’m taking you through the rabbithole. It’s gonna be crazy, so look out for that.
WL: Anything else ya’ll working on?
T3: El and Ab. I might do something, I dont know. I feel like my hands are kinda tied. I wanna do some supermusical stuff that I can’t really do like I want to do..
T3: Money..It’s all about the dollars baby (laughs). If I want a 17 piece orchestra I cant just go out and grab it like I want to. You know what I’m saying..So I’m like..I’m gonna chill for a minute. But Els joint is gonna be right, trust. And Abs joint is gonna be really right and then the Slum Village, it’s gonna be right too.
WL: So Slum Village is gonna come out..When is your album coming out Elzih? Before or after?
Elzih: I’m debating whether I should put it out before or after Slum Village. I think I may put it out after Slum.
WL: I think before would be smart.
Elzih: You think before? Why?
WL: I really think so. Because people right now are really waiting on some Slum Village stuff. And that is coming out next summer. And people would listen to you, Elzih because they wanna hear some new SV shit. Not saying they don’t wanna hear you. But they would wanna hear SV, they would listen to you and they would be like “Whoa…” And then they would like it so much that they would definitely go out and buy the new SV
Elzih: Yeah, you’re giving me something to think about right there..
WL: Yeah you should take my advice (laughs).. Just one more thing, on my show I will be doing a Dilla tribute episode soon and I just would like for you to tell the people how Dilla influenced you and what he meant to you and the whole Hip Hop game.
T3: I’m gonna let El answer it first.
Elzih: Yeah, I’m gonna let him think of a funny story. Me, um, man…He gave me a voice in this game along with T3. He was the first person to put me on a record that was heard all over. He put me on “Welcome to Detroit”. Basically, I got a G from him off of that joint. First check that I ever got off the game. And I just love him for that man. Real cool dude. So innovative. Just basically had love for me and it’ll never be another like Dilla. That’s my peoples, for real. Innovative as hell.
Phat Kat: Like T3 said, we’re gonna do a REAL tribute album. Not like the ones that come out every fucking week.
T3: (laughs) I mean, I got alot of stories, alot of reminiscing. But what I really wanna say about Dilla, is that he’s the most slept on, the most creative..I don’t know if you really understand what I mean! This guy created Neo-Soul, it didnt come from Philly! He did Erykah, he gave D’angelo the motivation to even come with that. D’angelo will tell you. He helped Common out a whole lot.
Phat Kat: He saved alot of motherfuckers careers.
T3: He helped Slum Village out. So I just feel like this, man. He’s one of those geniuses that was misunderstood. And that is gonna be greatly missed because nobody was like him. This guy can do anything, Rock, Soul, Jazz, Funk. And there’s not alot of people like that. There aren’t people who can just do that. And I’m not exaggerating. This guy could really do it! It’s not a myth! I’ve seen him do beats in five minutes that killed a niggas whole album. One beat! That’s all I can say man, really. And we’re gonna always keep his legacy alive. We had our rivalries. But at the end of the day we had a friendly rivalry. But we would never talk about it though. But yeah, Dilla, one love for real. One love to all the cats thats keeping Hip Hop alive right now.
WL: Thank you very much for the interview!
by Wanja Lange