Baatin: Baatin means ‘the hidden’ in Arabic and Aramaic. In Hebrew, it means ‘stomach’.
MVRemix: What does the turban symbolize? When I interviewed Elzhi (almost a year ago today), he told me that you studied Hebrew. What attracted you to studying Hebrew? What does the turban have to do with Hebrew?
Baatin: There was a friend that was studying ‘Knowledge Of Self’ and we underwent 22 lessons. They dealt strictly with your esoteric body, your spiritual connection to the universe, your physical connection, and your soul’s connection with our existing universe and the creator. I got into Hebrew lessons after those lessons. A guy came in and told my teacher, my mentor at that time, that he had information on Kabbalah that he would like to share with us. That’s where the turban and the head-wrap came in. He said that in order to come to this class, your head had to be wrapped in white. We did that and that’s where the turban idea came from. These lessons dealt with the 22 symbolic codes of ancient Hebrew. This is ancient Hebrew, not Yiddish. The symbols that were on stigmata were exactly what we learned. He taught us this exercise that, in the bible, is called the ‘burnt offering’ or the ‘burnt sacrifice’. He taught us about the burnt offering, burnt sacrifice that Moses and Christ did in their day. They called it Tsaidma.
MVRemix: They used to call you the Shape-shifter. Can you explain that?
Baatin: The Shape-shifter was given me because I changed my voices up a lot in the songs. The form, the shape-shifter, comes from me having multiple personalities. It’s easy to say that I’m insane or crazy but still grounded enough where I can deal with people. When I started tripping out, they started saying, ‘This guy really is the shape-shifter’. So, I got that title from being crazy.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite Slum Village song?
Baatin: I would have to say ‘Untitled’. Wow! The vibe we were in when we recorded that song, man… whew! I can’t even explain it. It was crazy.
MVRemix: Are you working on a solo project?
Baatin: Yes, I am working on a solo project. It’s called Slumlord, that’s my new name. It’s Baatin The Slumlord. I have an EP that will be released called ‘Presidential Suite’. I’m 29 and I experienced numerous years of producing hip-hop music. You can’t be hip-hop for a day and say ‘I’m not hip-hop’ another day. I’m just going into a little more commercial depth of my career now.
MVRemix: Are you on a label or are you shopping around?
Baatin: I’m shopping around now. I have a deal with Universal but that’s distribution. I’m debating between Capital and Columbia.
MVRemix: Will you have anything to do with Barak Records anymore?
Baatin: Not at all.
MVRemix: So, you are not on good terms with Barak?
Baatin: Not really. We are friends on a personal level but not on business terms. We will never do business again. My personal business was the only business that was not handled. Everybody else’s business was tight.
MVRemix: What artists or group would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet?
Baatin: I would like to do a song with Pharrell (of The Neptunes) and Snoop. That’s not just because of commercial reasons. These are artists that I really want to do some work with. Common. We’re gonna do some work together when I get out to L.A.
MVRemix: What producer would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet?
Baatin: I definitely want Jay Dee to f*ck with me on this new album. I want him to do the production for the song that me and Snoop would do. He would do that beat. Karriem Riggins too. Lacks is my ace boon. I talked to Lacks and I’m supposed to get a beat CD from him soon.
MVRemix: You said that you did some production. ‘Trinity’ by Slum Village had some production by Jay Dee but most of it was either by Karriem Riggins or T3. Why didn’t you handle any of the production? Did you get the opportunity?
Baatin: I wanted to but my opinions were not always valued in the group. I stood back a lot of times. I was always in the background in interviews too. You know, my opinions were not always what they thought was best for Slum Village. You never heard or saw the cohesiveness of all three of us. It was always T3’s decisions or Jay Dee’s decisions. J Dilla, was the builder of ‘Fantastic’ Volume I and Volume II and T3 was the decision maker for ‘Trinity’. If I was with the group on this new album, it would have been a lot more of my input but it didn’t work out that way. You’ll get my input on my solo project.
MVRemix: On ‘Fantastic Vol.2’, what was the symbolism of the phone box on the cover?
Baatin: (laughs). Our picture coming out of the phone box? Yeah. Man, that was an idea from Chris, who was our graphic designer of that time. I guess it was supposed to give us some type of vintage look. I can’t really describe it. It wasn’t our idea.
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?
Baatin: Racism? I would have to say when I was working at a job about 13-15 years ago. Maybe about 10 years ago. I was working at Bath And Body Elements. A lady came in and I asked ‘Can I help you?’ and she was like ‘No! You can’t help me!’ She was a total racist. You could just tell. There were no words to describe it. I have numerous experiences of racism at the jobs I had in my history. I experienced countless episodes or racism. I remember being a dishwasher. I went into the bathroom and one guy called me the N-word. Being politically astute as I am, I didn’t even react to it. I could have went off on the dude but it was no big deal to me. It was just a word. Me, personally, going into the lessons and being taught that the Black man is God, I had to experience that myself. I had to experience races and other creeds. Now, wisdom sent in through my travels. I had to learn to deal with people on Earth because we are all God’s children. We all have a specific purpose here. When we really look into ourselves, we can discover who and what we really are. We were born into a physical existence on Earth. We all have a purpose and we all have to learn how to deal with each other until a certain amount of time. We don’t have that much time until nature starts putting her tooth in there.
MVRemix: Where were you during the September 11th, 2001 Terrorist Attack? How did you deal with it and how do you think it has affected hip-hop?
Baatin: I believe that I was on tour somewhere. It didn’t really affect me that much. Some things are fate. Had that not had happened, who knows what would be the existing sh*t going on here now? I think that the September 11th incident brought a lot of people together. It made the world react and stop for a second. Pause. Take a breath. Really look at what is going on and what is happening. It didn’t affect me too much at all because I had countless dreams of things that were way more devastating on Earth. I don’t know.