T3 Shares Fantastic Memories Of Dilla & Slum Village On A Song That Features Baatin

Slum Village began out of a dream from three Pershing High School classmates living in the Constant Gardens section of Detroit, Michigan. J Dilla, Baatin, and T3 would organically garner attention in the mid-1990s. At the same time that Dilla (as “Jay Dee”) was sought out to produce for A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, and Mad Skillz, his group’s “fantastic” bootleg circulated across the industry and among Hip-Hop Heads. By Y2K, the group was dealing with major label love, two heralded albums, and a hand on Motown’s baton.

However, Dilla and Baatin both exited the group during the early 2000s. While T3 held the reigns, both artists stayed loosely involved (including Baatin’s full-on return for Villa Manifesto). Meanwhile, T3 carried the torch with Elzhi, an esteemed lyricist. Young RJ (and for a time, Black Milk) handled lots of production. While fans always held the original trio’s work on a pedestal, Slum Village continued supplying dope Hip-Hop from The D well into recent years. Although the lineup shifted, T3 always was the rock—even through J Dilla’s death in 2006, and Baatin’s passing in 2009.

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On a new Delicious Vinyl Records EP, Mr. Fantastic EP, T3 looks back at Slum’s inception, and honors his late band-mates. The project is riddled in boom bap Detroit flavor, turning up via heavy synths and flat drums that echo the inspiration of Dilla. Produced entirely by Ruckazoid and Teeko, T3 weaves throughout the project with layers of aggressive bars and some soulful Detroit vibes.

A standout cut from the project is called “Mr. Fantastic,” which features a verse from Baatin. Through a beat assisted by a plucking set of strings, T3’s voice cuts into a repeated hook: “I did it for my mans, J Dilla and Tin.” T kicks off his verse with three bars that tell you where he’s coming from and how he’s paying tribute to his partners passed. He starts: “Feel me, we ain’t never the same, I’m fantastic / Tee, Titus and James is fantastic / Came through Concord the lane, I’m fantastic.” He smoothly segues into his verse: “Five shots bucking at your crew, ha! / African warrior sh*t looking like Zamunda / Bruce Lee Jedi kick stuck like a flu shot / Laying in the hammock and the chicks wearing tube tops / Sippin’ crack coconuts, ice looking ultra crushed / I was outta sight for the night until I rolled it up.

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Baatin takes the song’s third and final verse, waxing poetic about the troubles he sees around him. “How come I gotta struggle to make a change in the game? / How come I can’t even grip me a Range? / How come my brothers is getting paid for they killing people in a song and nobody acting like it’s wrong? / How come our ancestors is looking at us like what the heck is we doing? / Fighting for freedom getting ruined by the mentality of television telling us lies / In reality the way we livin’ is disguised.

The song’s official lyric video, directed by Espen Hoem, includes a Poloroid of every bar T3 and Baatin raps, showing old photographs of T3, Detroit, Dilla and Baatin in the studio and on tour together, making for a sweet look at the crew’s history.

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When speaking to Hypebeast about the project and its intent, T3 said that he wanted to achieve a “feel-good” sound that he feels is missing in Hip-Hop today. “The first joint I recorded was ‘Turn Me Up’ which is like an up-tempo boom bap record with me doing one of my unique voice characters and Dank Harv for the assist. My inspiration for this album was to bring back the energy! I missed that, right now music is in a different wave.”

Mr. Fantastic EP is out now and features appearances by Dank, Botni Applebum, Lake, Illa J and Frank Nitt.

Press photograph by Yamandu Roos provided by T3.