Slum Village Shares New Details About Making Get Dis Money

A quarter-century ago, Slum Village was in the process of following up their Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) debut. That underground album became a calling card for a new sound coming out of Detroit, Michigan — and three artists bringing the change. T3, J Dilla, and Baatin were in the process of following up and making good on another album worthy of its name, Fan-Tas-Tic, Volume 2.

A year before Volume 2, Slum supplied The Office Space soundtrack with a banger. 1999’s “Get Dis Money” became a hit for the trio—even without a music video. The 20th Century Fox/Interscope Records 12″ single is much bigger than a song about counting cash. The record, which later landed on 2000’s sophomore LP, showed three men on their creative ascent and holding one another to a higher standard artistically. It is the first song of a new Ambrosia For Heads throwback playlist (follow here) that currently celebrates indelible Hip-Hop from the end of the 1990s into the mid-2000s.

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This week, AFH spoke to Slum Village’s co-founder T3 as well as Young RJ‚ who evolved and blossomed from a J Dilla production pupil to an SV producer in the early 2000s to a full-fledged group member and Grammy-nominated artist over the last 15-plus years. In an audio montage from the conversation, Young RJ recalls sifting through a stack of DAT tapes on the SV manager’s desk after school. He was astonished when he heard the creation that became “Get Dis Money.” “I was like, ‘This is crazy; this definitely gotta go on the album—[and] this was before there was three verses to the song. Just seeing it go from the demo process to the completed version was amazing to me. It’s a classic song, even to this day.”

Following their self-made debut, T3 describes a new process for Slum Village. “We had to clear that sample,” he begins. “Even before that—when we heard [the beat], we thought it was incredible, with the vocoder and all of that. And then Dilla made a classic beat out of it.” RJ adds, “Not only that, Herbie Hancock didn’t even know that was his sample.” T3 picks up, “So when we went to go clear it, Herbie Hancock said, ‘Where is the sample at?’ We was like, ‘It’s the whole damn record; what is you talkin’ about?’ It didn’t make no sense; that means we could’ve gotten away with it,” T3 says with a laugh.

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“Get Dis Money” samples the Jazz legend’s 1978 song “Come Running To Me.” However, the Grammy Award winner could not place his composition within the Slum Village creation, because of how creatively Dilla flipped it.

Slum Village’s surviving co-founder also describes the environment. “We was definitely in the basement at Dilla’s crib. And usually, with records, the set-off was either me or Dilla settin’ it off,” says the artist with the song’s first verse. “Then we’d end up goin’ to get Baatin and finish it up. That’s usually how we did record—I’d say a good 70% of the joints.” He adds, “Something about ‘Get Dis Money’ that a lot of people don’t know is Baatin had to write his verse over like three times. So it’s at least two versions of two different verses of Baatin’s [part in the song]. Because here’s the thing: we had a thing when we did songs, that Baatin would start off talking about the topic, and then he’ll go somewhere else. And that used to frustrate Dilla sometimes. And he was like, ‘Nah man, you gonna have to write something else; you’re gonna have to write another one. [Laughs] So Baatin ended up writing like two or three verses to ‘Get Dis Money.'” RJ notes, “And he still didn’t get it the way that Dilla wanted it. You know, he was just like, ‘Aight; we gotta turn it in, so this’ll do,’ which is why his verse kinda fades out at the end. As a producer, you can hear the record finished in your head. And sometimes, when it’s not exactly the way you hear it, you’re like ahh, but it’s still dope. It ain’t like Baatin gonna write no trash. It’s just, Baatin was the curveball, and sometimes he took a different approach—instead of just staying specifically on the topic.”

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In an era when the lines of demarcation between “commercial” and “underground” seemed like rigid boundaries, Slum Village deliberately blurred the lines. “When people first heard us [and realized] that Dilla was doin’ the beats, they [were going to be reminded] of A Tribe Called Quest. But our lyrics—we was like the gangsta version or the hood version of A Tribe Called Quest. So, talking about money, yes—we was talkin’ about money. We talkin’ about women. We were talkin’ about what we had in our lives or what we wanted to strive to get at that time.”

The AFH Throwback Playlist (follow here) also features classic songs by Madvillain, Prodigy, Common and Sadat X, Ghosttface Killah, dead prez, Little Brother, Twista, Da Eastsidaz, Devin The Dude, J-Live, and many, many more.

Also, to stay up on current Hip-Hop in the tradition of those great artists, follow our weekly updated new music playlist. That playlist currently features recent releases from Masta Ace & Marco Polo, J. Cole, Evidence, Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Coast Contra, Griselda, Big K.R.I.T., Che Noir, AZ, Joell Ortiz and many more.

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#BonusBeat: Over the last month, Slum Village released its latest single, “Request,” featuring Earlly Mac and Abstract Orchestra: