Jalen Rose talks Detroit with Slum Village’s T3 and Young RJ

Rap may have been born in NYC, but it was raised in the 313.

As we continue to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, it would be an outright sin to exclude Detroit’s legendary group Slum Village from the conversation. That OG trio absolutely owned the late 1990s with their debut album “Fan-Tas-Tic” and the current group continues to make a mark on music today. 

The active duo, T3 and Young RJ, recently released powerhouse single “Just Like You” and have what’s sure to be a spectacular album coming soon, too.

I had the pleasure of speaking with them both on this week’s “Renaissance Man” in an episode that’s not only a stroll down memory lane — but also a foreshadowing of what is to come for hip-hop.

Like many bands have, Slum Village underwent personnel changes throughout the years and, sadly, has lost two of its three founding members, J Dilla and Baatin.

The third of that original crew, the iconic rapper T3, reminisced on how the group rose to meteoric success like it was only yesterday.

“I remember when J came to do one of the first shows — because J started off in the back DJing and then we moved him further to the front,” T3 recalled of his late friend and musician who took the mic finally.

“Once I saw how we gelled with the show and the chemistry we had, then that’s when I knew, ‘OK, you know, maybe we can make this pop.’”

T3’s theory was proven more than successful as Slum Village hit the studio. With the mighty influence of J Dilla, it didn’t take long for them to attract major names like Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Questlove and Erykah Badu to line up for coveted recording sessions.

“That was so inspiring for us to be able to bring that back to the city,” T3 said of their many hit collaborations. “It really got us out there. It took a long time for somebody to get there [during that time period] because everything was word of mouth. We had no outlets.”

T3 (left) and Young RJ talked to Jalen Rose about the glory days of Slum Village.
T3 (left) and Young RJ talked to Jalen Rose about the glory days of Slum Village.
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Doin’ it for Detroit was an incredible motivator for Slum Village as well. 

The group didn’t just look at what their leap to stardom meant for their personal gain, but instead approached fame as advancing the Motor City’s incredibly illustrious musical history.

“It’s a melting pot. It started all the way back from Motown and just seeing the legacy that they left in the city,” Young RJ said.

“Eventually everybody was trying to find a way to do techno with all these different influences. Radio was way different too … we had no choice but to be original with the style because we had so many influences that you would hear in the city.”

After reflecting on their own true heyday, the dynamic duo behind modern Slum Village expressed great expectations for the next wave of emerging hip-hop artists to come.

Young RJ stressed that the genre needs “fresh, new creative ideas” and T3 doubled down on the sentiment.

“My hope for a new generation is just to keep it fresh — keep it original, keep them guessing,” he said. “Musically, I think hip-hop is just going to grow. I heard some [new] things that are still bubbling … so, yes, keep it creative. That’s what I’m saying.”

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose executive-produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.

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