The ever wonderful Jazz Café recently offered a heavyweight hip hop show featuring Slum Village, Phat Kat, and Lifesavas with DJ Design, DJ Dez and DJ DV One. Some quality music and a vibrant show was offered to a well deserving crowd, heavily peppered with fans singing along to valuable Kat and Slum joints the whole show through.
The girls in the front row deserve serious recognition for their support, and many a man was seen bustin’ moves. I caught up with them after the show to see wassup…
Slum Village don’t need much of an introduction. Hailing from Detroit, T3 and Elzhi are currently on tour, maximising down time to record their 3rd album together and solo projects. On their last night before a tour break, after which they will tour Austarila, T3 was full of energy, very funny, and upbeat after the performance.
I asked him about touring:
“Being on the road gives me chance to re cooperate somewhat, although its tiring partying every night and doin’ shows”, T3 says, but it, “gives me a chance to let my juices fill back up so when I go back in the studio, I can do it all over again. I’m letting my brain rest when I’m out on the road: so when I go back in the studio, yo I’m just fresh”.
The Slum Village collective has been quite fluid over the years, and I wonder how / if this has influenced their style and sound.
“I’ve remained the same, but everything else has changed. We Changed members, we had our ups ands downs We kept making good music, so I guess the fans kept following us, maybe that dramas’s what keeps them intrigued?”
Currently working on their third album together T3 states: “I think this will be our best work… I think creatively, no ones gonna be able to touch this album when it comes out, no one. The joints we got is so ridiculous… Guys may beat us in record sales… but creatively, no ones gonna be able to touch this album”.
There’s some serious quality production and collaboration on this up coming album. Hip hop fans will not be disappointed; “Black Milk been doing some joints, super Dave West, Denine Porter from D12, and I’ll be producing too. For those that I don’t know I did: ‘Closer’, ‘Count The Ways’… and a load more”.
Elzhi has also been working on some solo material alongside this project.
“I Got a solo album im workin on… Im probably like 7 tracks deep. I got a joint with Royce Da 5’9, (and) I plan on getting Phonte and Blue on the album, and Black Milk producing beats. My boy Demark Vessy up and coming from Detroit. I’m proud of myself. Its going down”. Also there’s: “a couple side projects that I got going on, and it works like: Phat Kat – Cold Steel, probably do like 11 cuts together, It’s gonna be bangers! And I’m also doing an album with Royce Da 5’9 too. Of course we probably gon’ get some Dilla tracks, some Black Milk tracks you know, just cats from the camp, keeping it real”.
I asked T3 and Elzhi if we needed to be aware of any new artists. Both the mentioned soul singer and pianist ‘Ab’, who will be appearing on the new album. “You could compare him to D’ Angelo, Raphael Siddique, but he got his own style”, says T3, who will be, “arranging and co writing for his album too”.
It seems Elzhi takes inspiration from all around him with regards to his music. When I asked when he is at his most creative, he replied: “Probably when I’ve eaten a great meal, watched a great flick, something to charge my batteries up… probably bought some dope kicks and got excited an wanted to write; even going to the strip club…”
He goes on to explain that: “I would love to work with Radiohead. I Love Tom York. I love the whole Radiohead catalogue, you know that’s my shit”; and that to him, hip hop is, “A way out. Creating a lifestyle for yourself with words. Its an escapism- like release some stress. Its how I talk, its what I breathe, I eat sleep, drink, think… its my everyday. Everything that I do is basically pushing my creativity to write. I’m blessed. I’m doin’ what I wanna do, I’m making a living for myself with words. This is what I do”, he shrugs, “I’m hip-hop”.
I can’t argue with that.
Elzhi states that if he wasn’t a rapper, he would probably draw, but he’s been rapping since he was 8 years old..!
When it comes to the dreaded writers block, he shakes his head: “that gets to me so much man. One of my worst fears is losing my voice or my hearing, just all my senses ‘cos you know I get charged off of all that. It’s like a storm, you gotta let it come, rain on you, and pass through. Whats crazy about a writers block, even though I hate it, after… it seems you done soaked up so much… that when you finally get in that zone about you get a lot to rap about, and you done learned a lot. You feel like a tyre in the mud at first but…”
We suddenly realise the place is very quiet, it seems almost everyone has left the building, so we decided to make a move to find another drink. Both T3 and Elzhi were interesting and sociable guys, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing that new album.