Sunset Blvd. (Delicious Vinyl) is the latest effort from Yancey Boys but don’t look at the cover, name, and title and say “eff it”. It is an effort worth checking out, and you’re able to stream and listen to it right now. Perks? It features Slum Village’s T3, along with C-Minus, and they call the song “Jeep Volume”, the instrumental of which was sourced from a Dilla construction.
The group now consists of T3, Illa J and Young RJ, and T3 continues to show what made him stand out when the group consisted of him, Baatin, and Dilla. On the production side, those who loved/fetishized what Dilla produced for the group may be a bit disappointed, but don’t be. A good portion of the album features familiar beats and samples manipulated to make things funky, while the rest of it is new sounds turned into some tracks that I’d like to think will be remembered. “Greatness” is a bold track where the beat pumps mean and hard as they wrap about personal and communal power and individualism, while “Summer Breeze” is definitely a reflection of what Slum Village had initially become known for.
My only issue with the album is the inconsistent mastering. Some tracks lack the boost of powerful drums and bass, while others are nice smacks to the face. This isn’t something that a volume button or knob can’t fix, but in some of the songs where it sounds unmastered, I wish they had much more zest to it, such as “The Line”. I hear the drums, I hear the synths, and I hear the vocals and I’m thinking “how come this doesn’t have the boom that the other tracks had?”
Volume inconsistency aside, Evolution may not be the full and true evolution that the group has gone through, but maybe that’s my interpretation of the music presented. I like the fact that T3 is still doing his thing within the context of Slum Village, but he’s more than capable of doing his own thing on his own terms. Whether fans will stay with him within an SV context or ride with him solo is anyone’s guess, but I hope people do because the man is too good to ignore or neglect.
(Evolution will be released on June 25th.)
Hard to believe that Slum Village have been around for 20 years, right? I’m sure they are too, and in honor of being around for two decades, the group are releasing a new album on June 25th called Evolution (Ne’Astra). The album will feature a number of guests, including DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rapper Big Pooh, Raheem Devaughn, Blu, and many more.
The group now consists of original member T3, and to his side are Young RJ and Illa J, and the album touches on the changes to a person that happens throughout life, and finding reasons for the things that develop, which leads to ones ever-changing evolution. Production duties on this one were done by T3, Young RJ and FOCUS.
Icon The Mic King is someone who I’ve been following for a long time, and now as he simplifies his name to be the appropriate Mic King (his real name is Michael King, so maybe this was meant to be). With slight moniker modification, it definitely does not signify simplicity in his writing, style, and execution of his rhymes. He teams up with producer Chum (known to some as The Skrilla Guerilla) for a great album called Flavor Ade, and this is an example of someone who is showing how confident he is in his own shoes.
Some rappers will choose to rap two ways: have a cocky attitude that is meant to represent fake gangsterism, and then a mock romantic attitude that is nothing more than a lure to bring ladies into their realm. Maybe it’s a facade that some people enjoy, but Mic King plays a different role in “Gimme Some Sugar”, or at least, his swagger here is mixed in with a bit of humor that isn’t often heard in other rappers who talk the talk, but little else is happening. “I’m The Best Mayne” has him trying to talk about his chain dangling in a Lil’ Wayne manner, but the singer (a self-proclaimed “Robot Boy”) that does his thing with Auto-Tune sounds like what would happen if you got someone who was not only off-key, but off-tempo, and turned him into a star. It could be parody or mockery, but it works, with the power of Greyskull.
Throughout the album, Mic King and Chum go from modern hip-hop tomfoolery to early 90’s new jack celebration, to exploring some of the more appreciated hip-hop sounds of the last decade. This makes sense since that’s what he was raised on, but then get into the album’s last track, “Kind Of Woman”. He does a few lines and verses in double time, and it’s as if he knows he can do other styles with his eyes closed, and this is on the next level shit. Not only that, but his speedy delivery here not only sounds good, but he’s making sense, it’s not the hip-hop equivalent of Al Jarreau or Bobby McFerrin where all he’s doing is saying “I got the business, doopidi doopii, doo, dearrwww dearrwww.” Mic King is a no-bullshit rapper who isn’t afraid to shine the spotlight on the bullshit in the music, as if to say “this is what you’re loving, I got something a lot more satisfying.” With Elzhi of Slum Village helping out in the string-ridden “Wordperfect”, and Slug of Atmosphere dropping an inspiring verse in “Snake Oil”, Mic King shows he is nothing more than a missionary on a mission who is in a position to go deep, while looking at you directly in the eye. He’s not a doggie style rapper, and Chum is not a doggie style producer, his samples and basslines are appropriate, the transitions in “Wordperfect” are award-worthy and I hope he gets recognized for that alone.
Just found one that Baatin, one of the original members of the hip-hop group Slum Village, died this morning. Singer Dwele, who worked extensively with Slum Village throughout their careers, including the song “Tainted” (which introduced many to both for the first time), made the announcement via Twitter.