Slum Village - Fantastic Vol. II      
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written by Philip Oliver    
You may not know this but this is not a debut from Slum Village, this is in fact their second album and with Producer/emcee Jay dee doing production for the Pharcyde and making up one third of the Ummah he ain't no new kid on the block either. We'll get this out of the way before the review continues, Slum Village are almost a Tribe called quest Clone in their Beats rhymes and life days (maybe a lil better, but its not hard as they peaked with Midnight Marauders). This makes comparisons inevitable along with one of the guys sounding like Q-Tip and when listening to the many tracks on the album you'll see the similarities in both flows and production. With that said Jay Dee, Baatin and T3 are here to bring some more shit to the table now that our favorite quest has now disbanded. Q tip appears on the track 'Hold tight' (which also features D'angelo) with the farewell we should have got on 'The love Movement'. There's not much feeling in his delivery but he wants us to 'Hold tight this is the last time ya hear me / I'm out now this is the last time to cheer me / Niggaz in the game is getting too slimey / liable to make this peace brother turn grimey / I'm leave it in the hands of the slum now / Take it away from where it comes from now. So its time for SV to carry the quest torch, can they do it?

Since I heard the promo 12" for this LP I been waiting for the full product to drop to see if they could bring that next shit, the wait is over. 'Coney garden' Kicks off the album, just representing where they coming from over beats that will become the albums norm as we go on. 'I don't know' is a slice of funky Ummah at their best and all emcees work so well over the track add to the hook some James Brown samples and we have a perfect throwback track, definitely one of the albums first highlights. 'Jealousy' comes off on the same vibe, although not as good its showing this group are just vibing off each other to bring you that cool relaxed sound, which shows you how at ease they are with each other. Unfortunately by the time we hit 'Some shit 4 a girl' it seems we've just gone thru 5 tracks that are just too similar. Pete Rock brings a much needed variety in terms of production and his laid back flow that made his album the 98 classic it was on the track 'one time' and the rest of SV also come correct sounding almost rejuvenated and more woken up over the jazzier beats.

The album has a few guests but there should have been more to add another dimension, we've mentioned Q tip and PR, well ?uestlove pops up on an interlude and we get Busta Rhymes appearing on not one but 2 tracks. 'Whats it all about' is still the same sound we've had for the umpteen tracks on this album but 'The hustle' is where Busta comes best, it's a lot more upbeat and the whispers over the funky organ keys add to a production delight but you can't help thinking each emcee is just freestyling, and not very well. This is the better track of the two but Busta's sneak in appearance at the end is just too short.

'Don't sell yourself' is also a very nice track and acts as another highlight to the album as they switch off that formula they overuse just too much. 'Go ladies' also sees the group kicking that same formula but they do it well and that's what really counts. The final highlight comes as 'We be dem nigguhs' as their overall sound is switched up once again, but not once but twice in the same track variety would be severely lacking otherwise.

The albums flaws really remain in the limitations of their lyrical content add to this the fact they tend to favor the hook over content, it can get annoying when a hook is just repeated for most of the song. Overall this album is a decent follow up to their debut but it seems they didn't really put their all into it, I mentioned the very sing songy freestyle type lyrics and the monotony on some of the production which really holds 'em back. If they'd also cut some of the bullshit out from 20+ tracks to maybe 12 it would score a hell of a lot higher, filler is a killer (remember that kids!!!). With the press frantically searching for ATCQ replacements it looks like Slum Village will take the trophy but sadly don't expect 'em to excel the originators.

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