Hip-hop fans around the world worship the late, great J Dilla, and for good reason. He remains one of the most beloved rap producers of all time – celebrated by artists ranging from A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde to Madlib, Kanye West, Nas and Kendrick Lamar – because of his connection with his collaborators, as a producer and a person. He was, quite simply, a musical genius who left us too soon.
When it came to connection, there was perhaps none greater in his musical life than with the trio Slum Village, which included Detroit way-back friends and MCs T3 and Baatin. Its where the artist known as Jay-Dee got his start, where he cut his earliest production teeth in the early-to-mid-90s, and where he started to understand that making music reaches its peak when artists build their work as family.
This new and exhaustive collection – comprising four CDs and five 7-inch records from the groups Dilla-helmed era – is the perfect way for longtime fans to celebrate Dillas work with his first musical family, as well as for newcomers to enter the expansive musical world he created in the 1990s.
As Slum Village, the group, with Dilla as chief producer and sometime MC, put out two full-lengths under the SV name: Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 (recorded in 1996 and 1997) and Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 2 (from 2000). Both are included here in full, with original album vocal tracks, bonus mixes and remixes, and selected instrumentals on a third CD.
CD #4 is a beyond-the-albums journey through rare bonus cuts (with selected tracks from the J-88 Best Kept Secret album, with the same trio lineup): 11 songs, including the remix to Hold Tight; two Madlib collabs (Things You Do and Get It Together); and the Pete Rock remix of Once Upon A Time (the original was also produced by Pete and is found on CD #2).
This multi-layered musical cake is iced by a separate vinyl companion, containing five 7-inches (two singles off Vol. 2 – Raise It Up and I Dont Know – plus three singles just for this set, each on its own color of premium vinyl: Fall In Love, Fall In Love Remix and Players), and a liner notes book with rare photos and images. The text is by journalist Martin Caballero, with extensive input from the groups only surviving member, T3.
The 7-inch labels in this collection are inspired by the original Raise It Up and I Dont Know 12-inch releases, which were designed to look like test pressings. The set itself is housed in a deluxe flip-top 7 box.