Slum Village at The Blues Kitchen

Johnny James, Managing Editor
T3 and Young RJ
Slum Village

Slum Village at The Blues Kitchen Manchester, Manchester 15 April 2024 Tickets from £24.75 — Book now

Detroit icons Slum Village are taking over The Blues Kitchen this April, performing new music as well as tracks from their legendary 2000’s albums.

First joining forces at high school in the Conant Garden neighbourhood of Detroit, the trio of T3, Baatin and Jay Dee (now better known as J Dilla) emerged as Slum Village in the late 1990’s. They recorded their debut album, Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol. 1 in 1997, and though label drama prevented its release for many years, bootlegged versions lit up the underground rap circuit, with T3 and Baatin’s helter-skelter freestyles and J Dilla’s ingenious approach to sampling and percussion quickly reaching cult status.

The follow-up, Fantastic, Vol. 2, was another casualty of its record label (A&M), which folded in 1999, delaying its release. But again it was heavily bootlegged, and this time all around the world, ahead of its official release by Good Vibe Recordings & Barak Records in 2000. Recorded in Dilla’s basement, where the trio were joined by luminaries like D’Angelo, Busta Rhymes, Kurupt, Pete Rock, and Q-Tip, Fantastic, Vol. 2 saw all three members flexing their rhyming skills and trading verses about life in their native stomping ground, while Dilla’s unconventional and meticulous production established the sonic blueprint for the Soulquarian-blessed neo-soul albums of the new millennium.

J Dilla left the group in 2001 to pursue a solo career with MCA Records, and in came fellow Detroit rapper Elzhi for the acclaimed Trinity (Past, Present and Future), which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard 200. By the time recording began for Slum Village’s fourth album, Baatin had also departed the group to pursue a solo career, but the guest-heavy Detroit Deli (A Taste of Detroit) still scored Slum Village their highest-charting single in ‘Selfish’, featuring Kanye West and John Legend.

Following J Dilla’s death in 2006 and Baatin’s death in 2009, T3 became the sole surviving member of the original line-up, but the good ship of Slum Village sailed on in various guises, with Grammy-nominated producer Young RJ and Dilla’s younger brother Illa J joining for 2013’s aptly-titled Evolution and 2015’s Yes, before a long string of compilation and bonus releases.

Fast forward to 2024 and Slum Village exists as a duo of T3 and Young RJ, who are currently touring Europe in support of their forthcoming album Fun – Slum Village’s first proper record in eight years. Following 2023’s ‘Just Like You’, the latest single ‘Request’ features contributions from Earlly Mac and the Leeds-based hip hop ensemble, Abstract Orchestra. With a groovy bassline and plenty of sharp bars, the Young RJ-produced track marks the start of yet another new musical era for Slum Village, who almost three decades on from Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol. 1, can still bring the fire.

But no doubt their set at The Blues Kitchen will largely reach back to those early gems, with T3 and Young RJ bringing a high energy dose of nostalgia as they perform tracks from some of the finest hip hop records produced in the 2000’s.

Slum Village at The Blues Kitchen Manchester, Manchester 15 April 2024 Tickets from £24.75 Book now

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