Slum Village officially released their new album Yes yesterday, after it has been available for streaming since the 12th of June. The album is impeccable, at once recreating that nostalgic, old school hip-hop vibe whilst remaining inherently modern. This comes as no great surprise, considering Slum Village have been producing music for nearly two decades now. While their sound stays rooted in the nineties, their lyrics give a playful commentary on our society today.
The album features a whole lot of talent, both as vocal support and in production. J. Dilla, before his passing, played a significant role in production. Dilla achieved an almost cult-like following, and allegedly had over 150 unreleased beats when he died in February 2006, from a rare blood disease. Many of those were completed posthumously by various artists, including a whole plethora of tracks which feature in Yes. Young RJ, De La Soul, Daru Jones, Jon Conner and Black Milk are also featured in the album, just to name a few.
The album starts with J. Dilla’s intro, a wonderful dreamy soundscape and taps quicly into Love Is, a classic, thumping track featuring a smooth, sexy hook by Bilal. Dilla’s influence is evident across the album in the gorgeous, cruisy soundscape, which makes an audible nod to the nineties. Songs like Windows and Right Back are more lyrical, and reflective in nature. Windows sees each artist describing the chaotic world around them,
“It ain’t sweet/ Automatic llama squeeze/ Kamikaze tryna kill everybody speech/ Yeah we hunger but our mind’s bout to feat/ Read the signs of the times then the signs of the streets/ Yo define what is peace.”
Slum Village alternate between creating nostalgic musical soundscapes and hard-hitting social commentaries in a way that is so effortless and natural. Each song has its own purpose, whether that be to make you smile, dance, to sing about sex and love or to describe the chaos of their gritty hometowns. Where We Come From focuses the latter,
“Year witness yo they vanish you often relay/ Tossed in the lake/ Pray it isn’t one’s fate/ Yeah my city aint the shadiest/ It aint what they say it is/ Yeah we raise our babies here/ We’ll love the wonder years/ Build til we persevere.”