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4080 goes to the Common/Slum Village Show

100_0173That’s right.  I managed to make it out to Ann Arbor, MI to catch Common and Slum Village play one of the dopest shows I’ve seen.  Common, an artist I’ve been trying to see for years, literally blew my mind.  It was definitely one of the most energetic and crowd-focused shows I’ve had the pleasure to being to.

The whole thing started off with a hilarious faux-battle.  A radio host brought two random kids out of the audience, and surprisingly neither of them were emcees.  And neither of them were very good, but they sure had a good time up there.  The rounds were lackluster but rather hilarious.  The winner’s big zinger was a non-rhyme that went something like “Look at your shirt/ it’s American Eagle/What are you, 14 years old?” The crowd went nuts.

Then enters Slum Village, Detroit’s own hip hop legends.  These cats have been performing for nearly a decade, and were the primary vehicle for the dopest of J Dilla’s beats.  The group has undergone several changes over the years, not the least of which is the replacement of Dilla with Elzhi.  Poor guy has huge shoes to fill.  Elzhi was absent for this show, so Baatin and T3 had to hold it down.  To do this, they brought in a rather generic heavy-set rapper to round things out (no pun intended).

Their set had its ups and downs, overall.  I sadly think I prefer their recorded sound better than their live set, but some of the tracks were amazing.  They hyped up their upcoming release, Villa Manifesto, and debuted a couple of tracks off that release.  However, the moment they started taking it back into the older stuff, hitting up Raise it Up and Tainted, the crowd went nuts.

After a brief intermission, Common came on and the house started getting out of control.  Everyone was out of their seats and startng to dance.  He eased his way into things, starting off with hits people are guaranteed to know.  An energetic performance of Go was followed by what has to be the worst song Common has ever written.  Hell, the worst song I’ve heard in a while.  Sex 4 Sugar is a juvenile attempt at a popular track, and is so un-Common (see what I did there? uncommon/un-Common?)  that I could dedicate a whole post to it.  But he managed to pick himself back up again.

He kept things going, doing I used to love H.E.R, and probably made someone’s day when he pulled a girl out of the 100_0164audience to serenade her with Come Close to Me.    Chantelle, the young asian girl he pulled out, was excited but managed to keep things under control.  Props to her for handling herself well.  Common was showing a bit more cockyness than I expected as well, getting this girl to wipe his sweaty head down with a towel before he started singing to her.  But hey, I guess he’s entitled to a bit of confidence these days.

My hands down, favourite, part of the show came up soon after.  Common, at the end of one of his tracks, broke into this little hip hop medley.  He kept chanting “hip hop, hip hop”, and then would break into a classic verse.  He did the chorus from Bonita Applebum (one of my favourite Tribe tracks), then went on to do the chorus from Definition, did C.R.E.A.M., and did a verse from Pharcyde’s Passing me By.  Then, for no apparent reason, he tacked on a disgusting Kanye West first about someone jacking his lexus.  Totally out of place, but I guess you gotta give a shout out to your friends.

Common even brought Slum Village back out to perform with him for a bit, which was nice.  Those guys deserve a hell of a lot of respect for holding it down for so long.

He kept up his attitude and his enthusiasm all the way through to the end of the show.  He finally built his way up to Universal Mind Control, one of my least favourite tracks.  But by this point he had wound us all up enough that people really cut loose.  The whole auditorium was dancing and screaming.

Then the show ended, with a quick thank you to the audience and a big round of applause.  And the oddest thing happened.

People left.

Seriously.  The auditorium began to empty immediately.  It was like 10:30 pm.  Not late.  It’s not a dangerous part of town.  But no one, and I mean no one, even tried to ask for an encore.  I stayed where I was for a few minutes, to make sure that Common wasn’t going to come back out or anything like that.  But when I saw the throngs of people heading for the exit, I knew that there was no chance.  The day was over.


Dilla’s estate is suffering because of piracy

Our boy J Dilla has some major posthumous issues.  He was never a very rich man (he actually ended up crazily in debt since he had huge health care bills) and the small amount of royalties flowing in are decreasing all the time thanks to rampant piracy and biting of dope Dilla beats.  His estate is still trying to pay off all his debt.

Apparently Dilla didn’t even get credit for a lot of his dope beats for fairly major artists.  On his biggest it (Janet Jackson’s “Got til its gone”) was “mistakenly” credited to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  That’s just absurd.

Even worse, people are just using his name for whatever they want.  People invented a “Dilla Foundation” that was trying to hold events and claimed they were authorized.  Dilla’s estate is trying to launch some lawsuits, but are so strapped that his lawyers are now working for free.

Read more about it here.

[Source: LA Weekly]

Album Reviews Music

Slum Village – Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 (1997)

It’s been a minute since we’ve posted any music on 4080, so I figured it was time to upload some auditory dopeness. And Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 fits that bill perfectly.

Recorded in 1996 and 1997, Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 is Slum Village’s debut album. Produced by J Dilla and recorded entirely in his home studio, the album was leaked as a bootleg in 1997. It became an instant classic among underground heads in Detroit and, later, across the world. In fact, according to Wikipedia, at one point copies of Fan-Tas-Tic were fetching $50 apiece. Still, despite its popularily, the album wasn’t officially released until 2005.

Musically, the album is notable for several reasons. First, most of its 25 songs are no more than a minute or two long, perhaps because Fan-Tas-Tic was intended to be a demo. Second, J Dilla’s consistent use of heavily filtered jazz and soul samples and intricate bass lines (seriously – every beat is dope, but they start to blend together after a while) was unique at the time, meaning the album sounds unike most mid- to late-’90s hip-hop. Third, T3 and Baatin – the group’s two mcs – transcend underground convention by rapping as much about women and money as about anything else. Their verbal back-and-forth will also remind you of Golden Age duos like Q-Tip and Phife or EPMD.

Slum Village – Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 (Counterflow, 1997)