Motor City heroes Slum Village have been established as a legit brand in Hip Hop for almost two decades, and despite all of their trials and tribulations they have continued to stay true to their classic, high quality sound with their latest project “Yes”. The group gave fans a treat a few days ago by allowing streaming of the entire album before its June 16th official release date. This album was produced in most part posthumously by the legendary J. Dilla, and this work of art surely stays true to the legend’s signature sound as it features a plethora of tracks to vibe to in addition to a soundscape very reminiscent of the 90s golden era. Young RJ and Black Milk also contributed to production on this album.
The first full track of the album is “Love Is,” featuring Bilal and Illa J. This track stays true to the R&B laced Slum sound, with Bilal contributing his smoothed out vocals to the catchy, buttery hook. The music has a classic soulful feel to it, reminiscent of the soulful grit of legendary crooners, such as Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes. A few tracks deeper into the album brings us to “Tear it Down,” which offers one of the more edgy and energetic tracks on the album. Here Jon Connor makes the most of his appearance with a memorable guest verse in which he solidifies himself as a player in the industry. Another track that is certainly a standout is “Push It Along”. This song has excellent production from Young RJ and Phife Dawg drops a quality verse that is interwoven into this track seamlessly.
The following track “Windows” is another piece of art that brings great energy to the table and is one of the more lyrical tracks on the album, with each artist painting a vivid image of the chaos that they see when they take a glance at the world.
“It aint sweet/Automatic llama squeeze/Kamikaze tryna kill everybody speech/Yeah we hunger but our mind’s bout to feast/Read the signs of the times then the signs of the streets/Yo define what is peace/Can you tell a merchant selling wool to a sheep.”
Here T3 does does a great job of portraying the corruption, chaos and manipulation that is all too common in the world today. Can you tell a merchant selling wool to a sheep?
“Right Back,” featuring long time comrades De La Soul is another one of the standout tracks on the album. Once again J. Dilla comes through with his smooth jazz influenced sound, as the instrumentation includes a distinctly sentimental and nostalgic piano loop. In the closing moments of the album Slum Village makes sure to stay true to their Motor City roots by giving you a glimpse into life in their gritty hometown with pride on “Where We Come From”.
“Yeah witness yo they vanish you often relay/Tossed in the lake /Pray that it isn’t one’s fate/Yeah my city aint the shadiest/ It aint what they say it is/ Yeah we raise our babies here/We’ll love the wonder years/Build til we persevere/ Spirit of the pioneers/When the sun clear we switch gears”
-Where We Come From
Collectively, this album has high quality production and insightful, though provoking lyrics. This project is curated more so for already established fans of the Motor City group, but is sure to pique the interest of new ears as well as the classic 90s influenced sound and appreciation for lyricism is back on the rise. Or at least we could hope right? New fans or not this project shows that Slum Village is primed to continue grinding and cooking up music for the soul.
Replay Value: 8/10
Standout tracks: “Tear It Down”, “Push It Along”, “Right Back”, “Love Is”