By Abbi Abraham | February 12, 2024
📸: shot by Gaby Garcia

Hip hop group Slum Village put on a passionate rap performance defined by a fusion of experimental sampling, funky basslines, and conga drums at Blue Note. the groovement had the pleasure of experiencing their sonically innovative and electric stage presence during a tribute performance for the group’s founder, legendary Detroit rapper and producer Jay Dee a.k.a. J Dilla. The group, consisting of Dilla and rappers Young RJ and D3, grew up together in Detroit and brought their own musical chemistry and unique Detroit sound that has emerged from the city’s underground hip hop scene, to the world through their hit records “Tainted” and “Selfish.” Honoring Dilla’s legacy on the anniversary of his death, the duo paid homage by incorporating live sampling and layered percussion through Chris Rob’s dynamic music direction, synth piano and buttery vocals. 

The show began with performances of Dilla’s solo work, incorporating the loops and samples found in hit songs like “Won’t Do,” “E=mc2,”  and “So Far to Go.” Chris Rob took on vocalist, keys and producer duties with flair, using a vocal synthesizer to capture the kitschy, futuristic sound of the track. The two-piece percussion added to the layered production, capturing both the sharp hi-hats and kicks of Dilla’s sound and moments of reprieve and complexity through accents of tambourine, shakers, cowbells, wind chimes, and conga drums to incorporate the rhythms of jazz, salsa and reggae. 

The energy spiked once Young RJ and D3 stepped onstage, their effortless flow and punchy delivery engaging the crowd as they performed fan favorite songs. The synchronicity of the duo was evident as they bounced lines back and forth with a call-and-response flow in “Players.” The band not only matched their vibe, but added their own flair through funky basslines, clean guitar solos and Chris Rob’s sampling throughout, paying homage to Dilla’s unique sound while keeping it fresh. Slum Village is starting the first leg of their tour in Europe this April, so be on the lookout for future shows. 

Connect with Slum Village on Instagram and Spotify.

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