Now that Jay Dee is not heavily involved with the new Slum Village album, many are wondering if SV can still hold their own. Before the Slum Village "Trinity" album is released, they released a compilation called "Dirty District" as an appetizer. This isn't a Slum Village album even though it looks like it is due to the packaging. This is a compilation of Detroit (and other) artists that is overseen by T3 and RJ Rice. Secondly, Jay Dee did not produce one track and isn't even on this album. Thirdly, Slum Village (as a group) are only on one track. T3 and Elzhi are on other tracks though. Still, it's a dope compilation that does more than just wet your appetite for the official SV releases
Slum Village was never known for the deep lyricism. They were known mainly for their production and the overall vibe of the album or music. While the production is not handled by Jay Dee, "Dirty District" maintains that cool SV feeling that we all love. The beats have that minimalist, slightly choppy feel and the mixing is done in a "dirty" way but that's one aspect that makes this work. T3 handles the "Intro" and does a great job. Without Jay Dee, T3 is the one who steals the show from Baatin and Elzhi. He sets the tone of the album with similes about how "dirty" it gets: "…Dirty like a cafeteria in a public school…" The handclaps and the loud call-response vocal give an incredible energy to the track. The very dope "One (remix)" by Slum Village (produced by Young RJ & T3) is an incredible song. Although some may like Jay Dee's original beat from the album version, this one should be appreciated. The minimalist beat works extremely well with the energies provides by T3, Elzhi & Baatin.
Most of the tracks do not have catchy hooks. The ones that do have easy-to-remember hooks that still maintain that gritty vibe. Ten Speed & Brown Shoe's "Real Life" is very cool. Beat-wise, this is very reminiscent of Jay Dee's minimalist production. The start-stop-start again beat actually glides along. Phat Kat's "VIP In" (produced by Kariem Riggins) is a somewhat catchy track with lyrics about getting respect in the clubs. The beat glides along while the hook is what sticks in the mind. The hook is probably the easiest hook on the album to remember and it is the only mack-out song. "Dirty District Theme" by Guilty, Marv (produced by T3 and Young RJ) is extremely well done. The emcees sound hungry. It was an excellent choice for usage in ending the the album.
Most of the other songs are not catchy but maintain that SV influence and feeling. "Freestyle" by Mu And La Peace (produced Young RJ and T3) is in 2 parts (one for each emcee). La Peace kills the track, but this emcee is anything but peaceful - he's hungry and violent, truly making the whole district dirty indeed. The other "Freestyle" track by Elzhi and Black is in 2 parts also (1 beat for each emcee) but doesn't feature the same intensity.
Although it is well-done, this compilation does have some minor flaws. First, "H.E.A.T." by B. Flatt featuring Fuzz (produced by T3 & Young RJ) has an extremely sloppy beat. The drums are just all over the place which makes it hard to get into. Second, there are two songs which have no business being on this album. "Yesterday" by 3582 (J. Rawls of Lone Catalysts & Fat Jon of 5 Deez) and "Big Twinz" by Twin (from The Infamous Mobb) are back to back towards the LP's conclusion. The Alchemist-produced "Big Twinz" has rhymes about how the Infamous Mobb are "coming from Queens." Totally out of place with a compilation representing Detroit. "Big Twinz" and "Yesterday" are incredible songs, but they are totally out of place and have been released on their proper albums. Third, lyricism is not at a high level. The hungry flows and deliveries are what drive this album but there are not many verses that are easily memorized or are very deep. Fourth, some of the levels and recording quality fall somewhat under par with some tracks but it does add to the "dirty" feel. I do wish there was more scratching and sliced up vocal samples too.
One thing this compilation does is give the spotlight to the other emcees in Slum Village besides Jay Dee. Elzhi is officially introduced as SV's new member. By being on a handful of tracks (including a freestyle), Elzhi does his job in a decent way. He does not astonish on the mic but he is concurrent with the SV vibe. T3 truly shines here as both a producer and an emcee. On previous SV releases, he was in Jay Dee's shadow of production and mic presence. Here, T3 truly excels in both areas. Sure, he's no Jay Dee but he creates good beats while keeping the original SV feeling alive. On the mic, he may not be an excellent lyricist but he commands attention due to his hungry delivery and flow.
The short length of the songs and mixing of RJ Rice makes this album flow extremely well. It is very easy to listen to in one sitting. The mixture of full length songs and freestyle tracks contribute to the variety within the consistency of Detroit's SV atmosphere.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable compilation that can stand strong by itself. Even though it serves as an appetizer to the upcoming Slum Village album, it has it's own jewels which should be appreciated. Even though none of the songs (except for "Big Twinz" or "Yesterday"), create that mind-blowing experience with the first listen, the vibe and the rhythm of the entire LP gets inside the listener creating a very cool experience. This is a perfect compilation for anyone who likes (or is interested in) Slum Village and/or Detroit underground. If this is what it is like to be dirty then this hip hop does not need a bath.
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