’90s hip hop legends Slum Village are still going strong after almost three decades, helmed by surviving original member and only constant T3, along with producer Young RJ. Still responsible for a fairly prolific outfit, the group are doing their part in keeping lyrically-focused, flow-driven, old school hip hop alive (albeit with modern sensibilities), and are a must-see for any diehard fans of the genre. The Detroit outfit will headline Exit/In tonight, July 23, bringing with them breakout Portland MC Illmac, and supported by local favorites Rashad tha Poet and The Morning After Crew. That’s a stacked lineup of quality, substantive hip hop, and tickets are still available right here. Read on for more about the show!
Formed in 1990 in Detroit, seminal hip hop group Slum Village came up in the golden era of the genre, as more soulful and lighthearted ’80s rap had begun to morph into more substantive, sophisticated, socially-charged, and boundary-pushing art (simulationous to the rise of gangsta rap and more mainstream, pop-oriented subsets of the sound). Peers of breakout groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village never quite became a widespread household name, but maintain legendary status within the scene, more akin to acts like Souls of Mischief and Main Source. While the group’s best known member, J Dilla, exited in 2001 to launch a beloved solo run, and tragically passed away in 2006, and fellow founder Baatin, who left in ’03 amidst health struggles, passed in ’09, founding member and only constant T3 continues to keep the group’s legacy alive, now a duo with producer Young RJ. Since their first full-length in 1997 (prior to that, the young group were an underground hit, and even brushed shoulders with a young Eminem), Slum Village have continued to craft music at a steady clip, and, today, feel as relevant as ever, keeping the tradition of meaningful, old school hip hop alive at a time when the genre has largely become a subset of pop. These guys are the real deal, and if you’re too young to remember when they were rising stars in rap, look ’em up on your streaming service of choice, and get ready for an excellent history lesson.
As we stated above, hip hop at its most visible level today is often a trend-coopting offshoot of pop, but that’s certainly not to say there aren’t plenty of artists bucking that notion. At the underground level (and certainly parts of the mainstream too), some truly phenomenal artists are still rising through the ranks, and Portland’s Illmac, who rose to prominence more than a decade ago as a talented young freestyle and battle rapper, then used the internet to find a broader audience, is an excellent example of the best of the underground. Springing out of the same Pacific Northwest scene as breakout rapper Macklemore, Illmac has both insane technical skill and an incredible lyrical prowess, making him an excellent compliment to old school, lyrical focused acts like Slum Village.
RASHAD THA POET
We’ve frequently maintained that Nashville’s hip hop scene is criminally-underrated (hell, we’re just now getting the public at large to associate us with anything that isn’t country), and soulful, socially conscious rapper Rashad tha Poet is one of the city’s greatest talents. Also an actor, activist, and spoken word artist, Rashad is an accomplished, smart, and supremely gifted storyteller, who’s released 15 excellent albums, perfecting a soulful, jazz-infused old school style with modern sensibilities. Within Music City, he’s uniquely primed to support a group like Slum Village, and adds some range and depth to this bill.
THE MORNING AFTER CREW
Another great example of Nashville’s flourishing hip hop scene, and a hell of a good reason to show up early, The Morning After Crew definitely feel like a callback to old school hip hop groups like Slum Village and Tribe, but outfitted to today’s aesthetic. With a sharp, poetic lyrical penchant and a honed, technical, old school flow, the crew are a bridge between the old and new, and an absolutely delightful addition to today’s hip hop landscape. If you’re excited for Slum Village, you’re going to obsesses over this group too.
Slum Village, Illmac, Rashad Tha Poet, and The Morning After Crew will perform tonight, July 23 at Exit/In. The show is 18+, begins at 7:15 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $20.