Slum Village's Villa Manifesto is one of my most anticipated hip hop records. Detroit is hitting the streets heavy in 2010 and if the rumors are true that Villa Manifesto will be SV's curtain call, then they are going out the same door they came in.
When I first read the track listing and production credits for Villa Manifesto, I groaned at the presence of Dilla beats, but it's become a gut reaction. It's time we look forward and be thankful for what we have (like Black Milk and Madlib), instead of lamenting what we've lost to exhaustion. It is my hope that Slum Village can be the group that respectfully lays Dilla production to rest. The minute the chopped guitar riffs of “Lock It Down” hit my ears, my optimism returned in the form of a familiar warming that maybe, just maybe this era can end like it began – fantastic.
The fantastic I speak of is Fantastic Vol. II, the Dilla opus that introduced Slum Village on a national scale. I still recall losing my damn mind over the clever James Brown punch-ins on “I Don't Know,” which I initially thought was the work of J Rocc and Babu, since I discovered the song through a Beat Junkies tape. When I picked up Fantastic Vol. II, it was not love at first listen, it took years for that record to grow on me, but much like a lot of Dilla produced records (Stakes Is High, Labcabincalifornia, The Love Movement) , my ear was too trained towards the creators before him.
With Dilla haunting every record that enters my radar, I am ready for the next frontier of hip hop production. Slum Village has not officially confirmed that this will be its final group record, but given its history, this would be as good of a time as any to achieve closure. In listening to “Lock It Down,” my excitement for this record grows as it instantly felt like a lost track from the Fantastic sessions. Perhaps I'm applying too much pressure, too early, but I feel as though SV has a significant opportunity to pay the utmost respect to its deceased members by recording the last fantastic Dilla record ever.
Villa Manifesto is out July 27 on E1 Records.