Published Aug 17, 2009The death of Slum Village MC Baatin on August 1 was an unexpected and sobering shock. Baatin along with J. Dilla (then known as Jay Dee) and T3 formed the original group that took the underground hip-hop world by storm with the seminal Fantastic Vol. 2. He had just rejoined the SV fold after a lengthy absence in part due to being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2004. Baatin's struggles were touchingly referenced by group member Elzhi on the last verse of "Reunion". With J. Dilla's death in 2006, T3 is now the only living member from the original group.
Baatin's presence was incalculable. Not an MC in the traditional sense, one whose effect could be measured through technical mic dexterity, his eccentric wordplay, high-pitched, seemingly helium-infused voice and incomparable energy, especially evident in live shows, were an ineffable draw. He had a penchant for uttering out-of-the-blue phrases and going against the grain - check the third verse on Slum Village's "2U4U" for evidence of him going totally off the script.
"Actin' Normal," is a new video from Slum Village featuring cameo appearances from fellow Detroit artists Black Milk and Dwele, who also directed the clip. It includes entertaining outtakes, helping to capture some of Baatin's offbeat appeal and unpredictability. Following the crew en route to a rooftop party, a rhyming and crooning Baatin takes centre stage, explaining his non-conformist swagger over a minimalist piano and harp-laced quiet storm track as 'actin' normal.' In the wake of his death however, (check the "Baatin Foreva" graffiti tag on the wall at 1:07), it's now serves as an unintentional, yet fitting posthumous tribute.
Listen to Slum Village – "Actin' Normal" here.