|People may know Baatin as the turban head-wrapped emcee from Detroit’s Slum Village (which originally consisted of Jay Dee, Baatin, and T3). Baatin had the middle verse in their hit song ‘Tainted’ which featured Dwele on the hook. His verse started with a high-pitched voice and the question: “How many hits does it take for a record to blow?” Baatin was always considered the spiritual one of the group. He definitely always stood out due to his voice, his fashion sense, his lyrics, and his overall persona. Slum Village was praised by some of the most respected musicians in hip-hop. ?uestlove of The Roots and Common always showed love to them. In the song “Hold Tight”, Q-Tip of a Tribe Called Quest told us that he was retiring and passing the torch to Slum Village. SV has worked with Kurupt, DJ Jazzy Jeff, D’Angelo, Pete Rock, Bahamadia, Timbaland, Ms. Jade, and more. With mind-blowing and innovative production by Jay Dee, both “Fantastic Vol.1” and “Fantastic Vol.2” were heavily bootlegged. As emcee and main producer, Jay Dee eventually decided to leave the group. Elzhi took his place as emcee and T3 or Karriem Riggins handled most of the production work on their last album “Trinity (Past, Present, & Future)”.
After intense touring and promotion, Baatin’s mind and body was suffering. The pressures and the scandalous aspects of the music business took a toll on his mind. Some people thought that he was crazy or on drugs. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and backed out of their tour. Eventually, he approached Slum Village and told them that his health was at stake and that he could not continue in the group. Just when the pressures would lighten up, Baatin fell into a coma. When he awoke from the coma, he lost his car and his house. Then, he received a letter, which told him that he has been terminated from Slum Village. Nowadays, Baatin is struggling but he is not giving up. Even though he has money problems and does not have an official deal, he is working hard with new management and new creative endeavors. Baatin has transformed into Baatin The Slumlord and hopes to release a solo project soon.
On a warm September evening in 2003, I had a long and poignant conversation with Baatin about the music business, Schizophrenia, drugs, Detroit, Slum Village, and much more. Baatin has risen from the ashes of the burnt village like a phoenix. He is determined and grounded. No longer will Baatin be considered the village idiot.
MVRemix: What’s going on? How are you doing?
Baatin: A lot of things, man. I just had a meeting the other day with Slum Village. I met with Elzhi and T3, RJ and Tim and my new management. I found out that I won’t be apart of Slum Village anymore. I received a letter when I came out of my coma that almost took my life.
MVRemix: What happened with the coma? When did this happen? What made it happen? Are you okay now?
Baatin: Oh, man! This happened around 3 months ago. I was sick for like 3 years. I didn’t know how ill I was. It was a mental illness that they call schizophrenia, but it affected me physically. I got sick on one tour. Elzhi once mentioned, ‘You were sick on the tour / Still you move like .. / With an attempt to perform..” So, I attempted to perform due to this illness that I had no idea was constantly going. I was thinking everything was cool until I started tripping out and going through some mental issues and going crazy. Everyone around me thought ‘Baatin is going crazy. Is he on drugs?’ That wasn’t the case. This mental illness really f*cked me up!
MVRemix: Did you get kicked out of Slum Village or did you quit?
Baatin: I quit first and then I went into the hospital. In the hospital, I received a letter. I just came home from a tour. I went home, left my bags, went to the studio and said, ‘Man, I can’t do this any longer. It’s f*cking my health up. My health is more important.’ I let them know that I would not be apart of this for now. I just took some time to myself and that was something I needed. This was before I went into the hospital. I got some things together and man, I had to go into the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I lost my house, my car, everything collapsed on me.
MVRemix: You lost your house and your car. Was it all because of bills?
Baatin: It was all because of bills and me not being able to perform the duties I needed to perform with the group and sustain my career.
MVRemix: So, back to the letter. Tell us more about this letter from Slum Village.
Baatin: I went into the hospital and when I got out, I received a termination letter. It basically said something like ‘We hope you are in good spirits but we are terminating you from the performances and the duties of Slum Village as an artist.’ That crushed me.
MVRemix: What was the incident that made you go into a hospital? Did you collapse?
Baatin: Overseas, I got poisoned by some shark fish over in France. That is what started to mess me up. I broke out in hives when I was on tour. People were thinking ‘What’s wrong with him?’ My face broke out and my arms. It was raw. I’m performing looking like this and no one said anything. I came off of that tour and I was sick, really sick. It was almost death. I went into a coma. When I came out of this coma three months ago, I had to find a purpose in life. I’m still living in this b*tch! It wasn’t sickness to the point of an ambulance coming but it was almost to that point where I almost collapsed. I almost collapsed at my mother’s house. My mother checked me into the hospital because I wouldn’t go. I have always been on that natural thing. I drank herbal tea and always healed myself. They took me to the hospital. I went in and got some treatment for my mental illness as well as my physical illness. I got back on my feet and I am healthy again.
MVRemix: Were you ever diagnosed with schizophrenia before?
Baatin: Never. Never have I ever been diagnosed before. The thing about the music business being heavy on the mind is true.
MVRemix: The music business gave you schizophrenia?
Baatin: (Laughs). You could kind of say that. (Laughs). I was going to sue but the only thing stopping me from a lawsuit is that I have 2 ½ songs to retain my publishing with EMI. I want to finish the four songs I have with Slum Village rather than suing.
MVRemix: Did the guys in Slum Village support you emotionally or financially?
Baatin: I had no support from the guys in Slum Village whatsoever. They didn’t come visit me in the hospital at all.
MVRemix: What is your relationship with the members of Slum Village like now?
Baatin: We’re just friends. Me and T3 have been friends for 13 years but he didn’t know what was going on with me. Obviously, there wasn’t too much of a concern. I said to myself that I had to do something with my life. I had to pursue my dreams and career.
MVRemix: Just to get things straight about Slum Village, who is in SV now?
Baatin: Elzhi is still in Slum Village. T3 is still in Slum Village.
MVRemix: Jay Dee is not back in Slum Village?
Baatin: No. Jay Dee is not back in Slum Village. He’s on 2 or 3 songs on the new album.
MVRemix: What’s the new album going to be called?
Baatin: I don’t even know.
MVRemix: Will you be on some of the songs on the new Slum Village album?
Baatin: There is a possibility that I will be on 4 songs. I’m on one of the songs they just had to turn in now and I just finished writing one of them the other day.
MVRemix: So, what is your opinion or feeling towards Slum Village?
Baatin: I was pretty pissed for a long time. I put all my heart and soul into this group and you terminate me? How are you going to terminate me when I am one of the forefathers? It’s like saying Ol Dirty Bastard is not in Wu-Tang anymore.
Slum Village - Fantastic Volume II review by Philip Oliver
Slum Village - Dirty District review by Todd E. Jones
Slum Village - Trinity review by Todd E. Jones
Elzhi (Slum Village) 2002 Interview by Todd E. Jones
Baatin (Slum Village) 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
Elzhi (Slum Village) 2004 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Elzhi (Slum Village) 2004 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by Brainiac
Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by NewJeruPoet
Dwele 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
Dwele 2005 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Elzhi (Slum Village) 2005 Interview by James Johnson
Black Milk 2007 Interview by Todd E. Jones