Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pop Matters Rate "Villa Manifesto"
#7 Hiphop Album of the year 2010


Slum Village
Villa Manifesto

Enough could be written about the trials and tribulations of Slum Village to fill a book or green light a movie, but being that Villa Manifesto is the last document of the Detroit pioneers’ careers, it seems more appropriate to simply celebrate what a great album the crew turned out. Nowhere else will you hear Baatin, T3, J Dilla, and Elzhi all rapping for nearly an album. That in and of itself is nearly enough to sell the record on hip-hop. But musically, there is very little of Villa Manifesto that can be reproached, either. “Faster” is a fantastic surprise of a pop song, something the group had never really tried to pull off before. “Dance with You” is the disco-rap cut you’d never have expected them to try either, while songs like “The Set Up” find Hi-Tek lacing up tracks he should have saved for his collaboration with Kweli, and “2000 Beyond” proves that any track with ?uestlove drumming is doper than dope. The raps are perhaps not the main selling point of the record, but that speaks as much to the production as the skills of the MCs. Young RJ, Black Milk’s former collaborator, arguably one-ups Black’s own Album of the Year with his production here, a varied set of funky, soulful beats that have few peers in 2010. Baatin bears his heart in regards to his strong addictions on record for the first time, T3 and Dilla sound more in pocket than ever, and Elzhi, when the group allows him to appear, continues to certify himself as the most detail-oriented rapper in the home of 8 Mile. Villa Manifesto is an album that consistently captures the artistic spirits of its members no matter what ill fates awaited them at the end of its production. It works as both an excellent point of entry for newcomers to the group, and as a perfect swan song for longtime fans. It’s a shame the group was never able to capture the sound of Fan-Tas-Tic again, but Villa Manifesto is without a doubt the greatest thing they’ve given us since. It’s a true shame we won’t get to hear anything more from them, but they had a hell of a run. Villa Manifesto is one hell of a victory lap. David Amidon

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