Album of the Week: Slum Village’s Trinity (Past, Present and Future) (2002)

It can be easy to get stuck on Slum Village’s label debut Fantastic, Vol. 2 (2000), one of the finest hip-hop albums of any era. With J Dilla at the helm, it bumps and grooves on a level that is strictly more beautiful than other records. It’s not hard to see why Dilla has attained a legendary status, but his absence from Fantastic follow-ups (he left the group to focus on a solo career several years before his death in 2006) leaves them relatively underrated.

Trinity is a great example of this. Take it on its own terms and it’s a very rewarding project. Despite a lack of Dilla’s production (only 3 tracks out of 23), the sound of Slum Village very much remains, in no small part due to the presence of founding member T3 on the boards as well as Detroit producers of the same ilk like Waajeed and Black Milk. Baatin’s trademark voice (similar to Q-Tip’s) carries along from the first album, and a young Elzhi (!) joins as a welcome addition to the crew.

“Tainted”, produced by Roots-affiliate Karriem Riggins and featuring Dwele, is an early highlight with one of the few classic SV videos. Elzhi sounds energized all over the project, with his verse on “La La” standing out as a particular scorcher. “One” has one of the wackiest Dilla beats I know of, with a twinkly piano sample and a punching drum. “Slumber” bangs with a beat courtesy of Hi-Tek.

At nearly 70 minutes, Trinity could have done with some trimming. I mean, there are 2 intros on this thing. Still, for fans of Fantastic and hip-hop in general, Trinity has a lot to give.

Listen to Trinity here.

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