This 90s-hip-hop sensation originally comprised of Titus Glover (deceased) who went by the stage name Baatin, J Dilla (deceased) formally known as James Dewitt Yancey, Illa J also known as James Derek Yancey, Young RJ, T3 and Elzhi. Now members T3 and Young RJ act as a dynamic duo helping to maintain the rhymes and crazy instrumentals encapsulated in Dilla’s beats and SV’s sound, that will surely make ya head nod. A sound that dominated Detroit’s underground music scene and even since Dilla’s untimely death in 2006, continues to live on and capture the heart and soul of hip-hop heads like myself.
Two years ago, I was lucky enough to see this dynamic duo in action. Yes, on Monday 10th August 2015, I finally built up the courage to attend an old school hip-hop concert. Who better to see than Slum Village! At the time, I was really enjoying their new album YES! which was released a couple months before on Tuesday 16th June 2015. I didn’t even know they were touring in London let alone performing in the Jazz Café. I just happened to stumble on an event page by the Doctor’s Orders on Facebook. Unfortunately, the tickets had sold out and as I delved deeper and deeper into social media I began to believe all hope was lost. Then at the very last minute (I mean literally on the day) someone wrote on Facebook that they were selling a spare ticket and thanks to technological advancements and quite simply the ‘e-ticket’ the transaction went down without a hitch.
I went on my own and it really wasn’t weird at all. I don’t know why people feel so uncomfortable going to these things on their own. Haha, I encourage it! I enjoy it, it’s liberating and not awkward at all. Infact you get to appreciate the music more. Everyone kinda just does their own thing, they’re there for the music. But then again, I wouldn’t go to the club for a night out on my own in a place I wasn’t familiar with, so I guess that ultimately boils down to the fact that everyone is different.
Slum Village performed songs from their new album YES! including Tear it down, Expressive and We on the go!!! They certainly did not forget to accommodate OG fans performing songs such as Call me, Yes Yes, The Look of Love, Raise it Up and Thelonious. It was a special feeling watching the duo perform right in front of me. It wasn’t at all what I expected in fact it was better. I was surprised at the amount of young people that turned up, it felt nice to know that people my age still enjoy that ‘old school hip-hop vibe’. At least it was nice to know that I wasn’t as eccentric as I thought. I then proceeded to post a video from the night on Instagram as you do.
A year later on Saturday 27th August at 7pm I saw them again at London’s Jazz Café. I guess you could say that I just couldn’t get enough of them and quite frankly I would probably see them about 100+ times more as I tell my friends on countless occasions. I know Daniella, it’s enough, I know. But I don’t know why every time I watch them it feels like it’s the first time. It’s always such an experience. So, like the eager beaver I am I wasn’t missing no opportunities. Yes, I made sure I got the ticket ahead of time this time around ‘no black people timing’ as my friends like to remind me. I got there shortly after doors opened and I was immediately taken by the atmosphere, the vibe, the purple lights and the basement feel. I could feel the energy looming amongst the audience whilst the DJ kept us on own our feet with an array of old school hip-hop classics such as E=Mc2, Stakes Is High and Dilla’s The Ugliest. I was in the mist of people who truly appreciated the quintessential hip-hop sound, so I knew it was going to be a night to remember.
After an hour of being immersed in throwbacks and dope remixes, a group from Manchester known as Children of Zeus took the stage. I hadn’t heard of them before. Though, I was already aware of Manchester’s eclectic hip-hop sound and regularly listened to artists such as IAMDDB, LayFullStop and the Mouse Outfit. I became aware of Manchester’s underground hip-hop scene when I stumbled across IAMDDB ft Woody Green and Root Raddix – Telascope which I would recommend anyone to listen to. IAMDDB’s vocals alongside the instrumental is what I believe completes the track. She is extremely talented. If you are reading this…you know what just stop what you’re doing and copy and paste that into Youtube or Soundcloud.
When Children of Zeus performed their single Still Standing I was hooked. Tyler Daley’s vocals were strong and the instrumental was smooth. I’m pretty sure I could hear elements of the backing track to Get Dis Money during the performance maybe that’s why I was immediately engaged. To me Still Standing seemed like a neo soul & hip hop infusion – oozing hella Dilla vibes. It managed to capture the essence of Dilla’s sound and establish it within the context of the UK rap scene. I feel like quite a few artists are doing this. Tom Misch and Nick Brewer seem to do this particularly well. Instead of completely copying a sound from another country and adopting a fake American accent as some have done in the past #NotNamingAnyNames. They chose to use these smooth, jazzy and soulful beats to create an authentic UK sound. Something that educates the world about UK culture. Be it through a video that shows the artist walking through their local neighbourhood or through anecdotes which show what it was like to grow up in the UK. Just as Mura Masa did in LoveSick which led to a lively discussion on Youtube between British and American students.
Slum Village came on shortly after. The hip-hop duo allowed us to relive my all-time favourites Fantastic and Tell me, the ultimate love song Fall in love and popular songs Climax, 2u4u and Call me. The audience also enjoyed Push it along and Expressive from the album YES! It was truly a night to remember.