TDM Exclusive: Interview Slum Village

We met 2/3 of the Slum Village crew in Rotterdam for an exclusive interview. Unfortunately Illa J was not present at time of the interview. Nevertheless, we talked with T3 and Young RJ about the history of Slum Village, Hip hop in general and J Dilla. During the performence we were treated with tracks like Fall in Love, 2u4u, The Look of Love and many more.   


The city of Detroit has been hit hard by the recent economic crisis. Nevertheless it has spawned a lot of musical masterminds. In which way the city of Detroit inspired you to start making music?

Young RJ: I mean Detroit always bombs back, you know what I’m sayin, there’s nothing different. The fact that we have it so hard is the reason why we work so hard and perfect our music. There’s not a lot to do, so we put a lot of our energy into perfecting our craft and the music. That’s the reason why we got so many greats coming out Detroit, like Dilla, T3, Black Milk, Kareem Riggins, YG, 14KT and a lot of people that are coming. Just look out for them..

T3, from the beginning you are involved with Slum Village. What motivates you to keep ‘the spirit of Slum Village alive’ after all these years?
Basically we had to keep the legacy going for J Dilla and Baatin. So we are always going to keep the legacy moving like that. We were the first people to get signed or get on. And with that you saw a lot of artist came under that umbrella and made a name for them selves. So I feel we always had to keep it going. There’s always going to be a Slum Village with the spirit of Dilla and Baatin. SV is part of the Detroit history…

How do you guys look at the current hip-hop scene. What has changed in your opinion?
Young RJ: The biggest thing to me that changed from the 90s to where we at now, when I grew up loving Hip-hop, is just the fact there’s no variety. The variety is gone. You don’t have a lot of people who try to innovate and keep it moving. You got people that just continue to do the same thing over and over. For example if Busta drops a new joint and it hit, then you going to hear a thousand songs that sounds like Busta. If Lil Wayne got a new hit, everything is going to sound like Lil Wayne. In the nineties people where inspired but they pushed further to expand the culture. In my personal opinion, I think that’s what missing in the game nowadays.

T3: I mean, music will always constantly evolve and change. I think it was more original back in the days. For example People where taking less a part of your song our rapping over your song, like they do today with mixtapes and stuff. People went out to make there own style and own sound. There are still a view people doing it now, but for the most part a lot of dudes just copy our take your beat or try to flip your beat instead of being original… sv2
Young RJ, you produced a big part of The Album Evolution. How would you describe your own style of producing?
My style is inspired by Dilla, because he’s my mentor he is the one who taught me how to make beats. In the album Evolution there’s 75% Dilla. RZA and a lot of other people also inspired me. So with Evolution we want to push it a little different that what is normally done with Slum. We don’t want the fans to get bored, but we want to keep the essence of Slum. That’s why you got records like Forever, Summer Breeze and Bout Dat. I feel like Dilla would be happy with the album, because we didn’t keep doing the same thing over and over, but with the next record we are definitely taking it back to what the fans want to hear.

Do you have a personal favorite Dilla beat?
Young RJ: I can’t really answer that, because every one of Dilla’s beats has something special to it. So it’s hard for me to say. I’ve got favourite songs like Find A Way, Stakes Is High, Fall in Love, stuff like that. But just picking a favourite beat? No, I can’t do that…

T3: One of my top favorites will be Get Dis Money. I was a big fan of the record Herbie Hancock – Come Running To Me, just the way Dilla flipt that one and put a baseline on top of it, which is crazy to me. But Dilla produced a ton of beats like that…

What is besides the music the most valuable thing he has left for you?
T3: Dilla, was a hard worker so he taught us a lot about work ethic. He also taught us about even you got it our you don’t, that was always his theory.

Young RJ: The fact he was nice, but mean at the same time. He would no take no shit. For example: he want to teach you something, but at the same time you had to work for it. Just enough for you to get the point and from there you got to take it to the next level if you got it. That’s the most important think Dilla taught me, without Dilla driving me like that, I probably wouldn’t not be as good as I am… sv23

What can we expect in the future of Slum Village?
Young RJ: The new album The Diary – 2014 is going to be crazy. Get ready for that and we do whatever the fuck we want to to do.
T3: More and more music. We are coming with some new records and some Dilla’ stuff that nobody ever heard before. That’s what’s coming…

What can the audience expect from your performance tonight?
Young RJ: This whole show is about celebrating the legacy of Dilla. We doing nothing but classic Dilla and Slum Village joints. The show is dedicated to Dilla and Baatin. It’s a Dillaville tour but we got to make sure we keep Baatin represent to the fullest as well..

We try to inspire  people with our blog. Could you give a word of advice to young artists, producers?
T3: Number one: get away from negative people, anybody who can’t see your vision. Cut them out immediately, because they not going to help your movement. And 90% of the time people are not going to see what you have for your vision and that’s what I did. I got a click of friends and we just knew what we want to do and we made it happen…

Young RJ: I would tell them the same thing I tell my nephew, which is find your passion and go a 100% with it. Education is important too, but as early as you can find what you want to do, whether it’s taking pictures, whether is making beats, wheter you want to be a video director, find that passion and go for it. There are no excuses, work hard and be the best you can be ad doing that. sv3

foto's by Max van Meegeren ©