T-3 from Slum Village
As one of the most creative forces in hip-hop, Slum Village has made their indentation in the music industry with their long lists of classics. T-3, one half of Slum, stops through to talk about his new deal with Chevrolet, their new album deal, the standards in today’s hip-hop, and Slum’s longevity.
Interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: Now that Slum Village has lasted through various changes, what is going to make this new album stand out from the others?
T-3: We don’t really have that many changes with the album. I mean we have the member changes, but it was just L and me for the last album and just me and L on this album. The thing about this album is that I rank this album as one of our top albums. We’re always dealing with a lot of chaos, but this album is solid. The music is hot, just the whole thing is one of those top albums. It’s almost even better than our previous album because our lyrics are better.

WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the main key to Slum Village’s longevity?
T-3: I think we are still a fresh group, even though we have been around. We have still been in the background. The public is not tired of seeing Slum Village everywhere. We just hit it, then go into our little world, and hit it again. I think that’s the key to our longevity because we always stay fresh.

WHO?MAG: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages from going from a major label to an indy?
T-3: I don’t see any disadvantages any more because if they have the same budget to work with, then you are fine. They still have the same outlets. They know how to get a record played. The only thing that can hurt you is if the independent label doesn’t have the capitol to do the things that a major label can’t. Also, they both should take their time to go out there and promote. A lot of independent labels are winning or have won like TVT. They’re independent with major distribution, but they are still independent.

WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the biggest void in hip-hop today?
T-3: The hardest thing for up and coming artist is getting on the radio. But with saying that, there are so many other aspects to go around that so you really can’t complain as much. Also another void is lyrically, hip-hop isn’t where it is supposed to be. Even when you had Jay-Z around, the lyrical aspect of the game was serious! You couldn’t just rap any kind of way. But now, I don’t see that standard out there to make rappers want to step their lyric game up. Right now, everyone is trying to ride the coattails of another rapper.

WHO?MAG: How did the Chevrolet situation come about?
T-3: That’s mostly the Motor City Connection. Most of the major car companies are based out of Detroit. That’s how it kind of came together. Then we put together a proposal. They really enjoyed the music, so they decided to put a commercial together for us. They also decided to make a video for us, so now we have two videos for the same song. They definitely showed us a lot of love. Everything is working out for us really well.

WHO?MAG: In your opinion, what is the worst mistake an upcoming artist can make?
T-3: That would be playing yourself. What I mean by that is basically by saying stupid stuff that you don’t really mean or trying to dis someone to get into the game. You can’t take that approach, not today. That’s probably the worse approach you could probably make. Stepping on somebody else’s souls to get in the game, especially if you are not prepared for an all out battle.

WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the next level of hip-hop?
T-3: Hip-hop is taking over. Hip-hop is now in movies, video games, and clothing. The only thing that will take it to the next level is to take it back to the essence of just genuine talent. That’s what the next level of hip-hop will be. It’s when it changes back to not being about gimmicks or a marketing plan.

WHO?MAG: Your first single off the new album is “EZ UP”. In general, how does a “first single” get determined?
T-3: It’s about ability really. It’s about what song has the greatest effect on the public. With that, that’s how it was chosen. We knew people would instantly like it. With that same song, that’s how we got the GM situation. It was just one of those likeable songs. It almost didn’t even make the album because all this time, the artist doesn’t really know. Sometimes you need outside people to help and get other opinions, but not for a whole project, but maybe help you pick for a situation that is best for the world.

WHO?MAG: What makes Slum Village different from other groups?
T-3: Nobody does what Slum does in the sense that we do soul, legendary, underground music. Basically by saying that, I mean there are other soul artists, but not in a Detroit way. We are the only Detroit group that is doing soul music. There is no other group with a major deal. We were the first rap group from Detroit to get a major deal. We broke a lot of standards that wasn’t even set before. Also, we are the ones who created the whole neo-soul thing. Slum Village and J Dilla created it all. That whole sound spread to Philly, and went to artist like Eryka in Dallas. We started that movement too, so Slum Village is definitely it’s own legacy. It takes time to claim all that. That’s what makes us different.

WHO?MAG: What’s next up for Slum Village?
T-3: Touring, working on new concepts for the Slum Village movie that we want to do on our life project, side projects. L has a book coming out about lyrics and lyricism. I have a book coming out called Ten Questions. We also have a bunch of new artists we want to showcase.