Let me first say, I love the album. Yea, I’m supposed to lead up to it, but quite frankly, not only is this Slum Village we’re speaking about, but also the first time we’ve seen all the members on one album, original and after the fact. So that should make it perfect, right? Well, close…but, no. Everyone brings the lyrics, the production is here, and the album is cohesive. The problem is issues within the group around the making of the album: Elzhi reportedly was taken off half of the project, T3 having arguments with Phat Katt, etc. I honestly feel that, if everyone present was able to have a fluid chemistry as it had been in the past, the album would have been the closest thing to perfect this year. I am not Slum Village’s biggest fan, nor am I from Detroit…this is an honest opinion about an album from who I believe will remain as one of the greatest groups of all time. With that said…
To try get the “negative” out the way (if you can really even call it that): while the lyrics don’t fail anywhere on Manifesto, I do prefer the heavier, intrument-and-melodic heavy portions of the album (‘Where Do We Go From Here’, ‘2000 Beyond’) over the more drum-driven (‘Earl Finn’, ‘Um Um’). I feel this way, because, quite frankly, I feel that the lyrics provided are better suited for the former. Also, one song, ‘The Set Up’, surprises me a bit as it features somewhat all-over-the-place production from a usually concrete Hi-Tek.
As far as the good, well, the album comes in on fluid motion with the first three tracks alone (‘Bare Witness’, ‘Lock It Down’ and ‘Scheming’), that latter of the three containing one of the few vocal J. Dilla contributions to the album. It’s difficult to point out any particular stand-outs on Villa Manifesto, but an excellent start would be the leadoff single, ‘Faster‘, with features a strong assist from Colin Monroe and smooth production from Young RJ, who actually stays behind the boards for about half of the album, and rightfully so. Another noticeable, ‘Reunion Pt. 2 (for which another video was made)’, has Baatin, T3 and Illa J trading sick verses over a haunting yet still powerful beat, also courtesy of RJ. The one track (and interestingly enough, the last track), ‘We’ll Show You’ ends the album of one of the most powerful notes, leaving a satisfactory (albeit bittersweet) feeling to walk away with.
To end the review, as I said in the beginning, it’s an album to buy and enjoy, without a doubt. I can only hope that 1) the album sells well enough so that T3 will be inspired to create another album, and 2) Elzhi and T3 work out the issues necessary to keep the Slum Village brand going forward. In the meantime, Village Manifesto (and all previous work) should hold us down.