Slum Village: Fantastic, Vol. 2

Slum Village: Fantastic, Vol. 2

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Slum Village

Album: Fantastic, Vol. 2
Label: Goodvibe/Atomic Pop
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Slum Village

Album: Fantastic, Vol. 2
Label: Goodvibe/Atomic Pop

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The sonic architect behind A Tribe Called Quest's last two albums, as well as Q-Tip's underwhelming solo debut, producer Jay Dee boasts one of hip-hop's most distinctive production styles, an instantly recognizable sound defined by loud drums and thick, minimalist keyboard grooves. The approach can be enormously effective, as on Common's latest and Pharcyde's Labcabincalifornia, or dull and repetitive, as on Q-Tip's Amplified. Detroit's Slum Village is Dee's pet project, and its oft-delayed Fantastic, Vol. 2 is rooted in his signature sound. That's both good and bad: Dee raps for Slum Village alongside MCs T3 and Baatin, and while the Jay Dee formula works better here than it did on Amplified, it can still be tedious. The enduring influence of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest is felt throughout, with each of Slum Village's three rhymers drawing heavily from the Native Tongues' laid-back, conversational rap style. Collaborations both expected (Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Common) and unexpected (Kurupt) prove highlights, as does "Raise It Up," a fierce declaration of individuality driven by uncharacteristically elastic drums, and "Once Upon A Time," which memorably teams Dee with producing idol Pete Rock. On "Hold Tight," Q-Tip hands the Native Tongues torch to Slum Village, and while the group has a long way to go before matching such superb next-generation Native Tongues acts as Black Star and Common, Fantastic is a pleasant surprise.

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