Elzhi, Chris Dave & The Drumhedz’ Tiny Desk Concert Could Never Be Tainted (Video)

After well over 20 years of work, Elzhi is one of the most skilled MCs in Hip-Hop. Alongside the always-impressive Chris “Daddy” Dave and his Drumhedz crew, the onetime Slum Village member has a story unlike many in the game, which makes this episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk one not to miss. “If you’ve never been to a Drumhedz show…we’re gonna take you on a quick journey as if you’re going through a record store,” Dave told the NPR Music offices at the top of his set, “picking up different genres of music and putting it in your bag.”

Performing the title cut from his 2018 Blue Note Records album, Black Hole, Chris Dave, and the Drumhedz set the scene perfectly. In an almost High Fidelity style, the newest member of the crew, Aaron Camper, delivered a quick invocation that gave way to the physical manifestation of Elzhi. The Detroit, Michigan MC, who recently shared co-MVP credits with Madlib & Oh No on The Professionals album, surprised the room with an unannounced cameo and reprised his rapid-fire cadence on “Whatever.” There, he reminds all that he is J Dilla-endorsed with a lively delivery.

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The head-nod-inducing moments didn’t stop there. Elzhi continues his string of must-hear verses that closed out 2019 as he rocked out with the likes of Diamond D and Apollo Brown. El’ joined The Drumhedz for “Tainted.” Although it’s been a decade since Elzhi was in Slum Village, he travels back to the 2002 Trinity (Past, Present, Future) Dwele-assisted song that gave the group new life following Dilla’s exit. That moment also marked a breakthrough for El’s talent, after mixtapes and underground work with Binary Star and others.

Camper, Dave and the Drumhedz take over after Elzhi finishes his verse to perform “Clear View,” which features some otherworldly keys played by Daniel Crawford. Dave, one of the greatest drummers to ever do it, uses syncopation and space to give his band-mates the right tempo to shine.

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In addition to The Professionals and Diamond D, Elzhi appeared on Apollo Brown’s Sincerely, Detroit, as well as Skyzoo & Pete Rock’s Retropolitan, which was named among 2019’s best Hip-Hop albums by Ambrosia For Heads.