Slum Village @ The Drum, Birmingham May 27, 2011

The year was 1999. Me and my fellow brother met up with some older gods in town. They asked us, “who are you feelin in hip hop?” We replied, “Yeah man!!! Ja Rule!!! DMX!!! Jay-Z!!!” They were like “Nah man, you need to check for SV…” “SV? Who are they?” “Slum Village…” “Nah man they sound dry man!!!! Ja Rule!! DMX!!! They run tingz!!” How ignorant and blind we were back then…one day these same older gods pulled me up, and have me listen to some Slum Village. Instantly I was feeling the more mellow sounds, reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest, before I realised that the great J Dilla was producing for them. Then I saw the music video on ‘MTV Yo!” for ‘Raise It Up’. (that was the name for Yo! MTV Raps after it finished in 95/96). Though my moms joked about the beat being composed on a Casio keyboard, it didn’t stop me gettin hype in my armchair while the VCR was recording! I am so glad when the older gods pulled me up when they did, otherwise my music tastes would have went a completely commercial direction, but they knew that my ear for good hip hop was still instilled in me from when I started listening in the early nineties.

The year is 2011, and my ways of going out had evolved from just goin out and gettin drunk to going to soul dances to going to gigs, and this time it was the turn of Slum Village. Upon arrival I found that a documentary was filmed for Channel 4 showcasing the life of a B-Boy. It was an honor and priviledge to be in the same building as the legend that is Crazy Legs and ‘Ozone’ from ‘Breakin’ fame. There was an amazing display of B-Boy battles that took place, so be on the look out for that documentary when that is aired on Channel 4 over the coming weeks or so.

The capacity crowd turnout unfortunately was not as great as I hoped, maybe either the promoting and advertising was not strong enough, or maybe it was because some fans felt it is not the same without former Slum Village member Elzhi who most recently released his Elmatic mixtape for free download. If you haven’t done so already be sure to download that, a phenomenal tribute to a classic hip hop album that is Nas ‘Illmatic’.

Many thanks to VJ Edoubled and A Few Good Men on the wheels of steel who got the crowd hype with an assault of old school hip hop classics from Rakim’s ‘Don’t Sweat The Technique’, to Wu-Tang’s ‘Proteck Ya Neck’, to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Award Tour’, to Crooklyn Dodgers ‘Crooklyn’, to Gangstarr’s ‘Full Clip’. then at 0030 hours, the DJ Young RJ introduces Detroit’s finest onto the stage.

The ovation from the crowd was overwhelming while T3 and Illa J performed classics such as ‘One’, ‘Disco’, ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Fall In Love’, ‘I Don’t Know’, and not forgetting the infectious ‘Players’. While both T3 and Illa J were performing their new material, admittedly the crowd were not showing that same love. Both have solo EPs coming out in June. However Young RJ quickly remedied that situation and ‘Get This Money’ was blasted through The Drum. That track had everybody dancing like they were auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent and straight afterwards the roof got blown off when Illa J answered my prayers and performed the only ‘non Slum Village’ track of the night, the hypnotising ‘Won’t Do’ by his legendary brother. At this point Slum Village turns their attention to the ladies, as they performed ‘Go Ladies’ and requesting them to ‘Call Me’ so that they can become ‘Closer’, Illa J’s crooning wins the ladies over and invites them on stage as they performed ‘Selfish’, though only two ladies actually stepped up, the rest either had cold feet or the respective partners warned them what would happen in their relationship if they attempted to step on stage! The 90 minute set ended with Slum Village defining what love is in their ‘Look Of Love’, and then had the crowd ‘Raise It Up’ in unison.

To summarise, a solid performance from the surviving members, and even though they paid homage to Baatin and J Dilla, there was no mention of Elzhi not surprisingly, and yet the presence of all three were clearly there, along with Illa J showing incredible heart and energy has he bounced around every acre of the stage. It was an honor and priviledge to have a photo taken with them after the show.

This is Mike Dogg representing for you on Unique Heat, and I approve this review!

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