Published Jun 16, 2015If you think rap has little to do with romance, Slum Village want you to think again. The Detroit hip-hop vets have crafted a slew of soulful bedroom anthems for their eighth LP, YES! Album opener "Love Is," for instance, has a beat that creaks like newlyweds' mattresses, as R&B Casanova Bilal delivers his trademark sultry croon while still leaving room for the Village's signature offbeat lyrics, which rhyme the word "foetal" with a reference to Carlito's Way.
The hip-hop trio go on to parlay some flirtatious couplets on the upbeat, swaggering bass line-backed "Expressive," before rhyming "casual" with "vaginal" to the tune of a shimmying instrumental on "What We Have." These smoothly sensual, slyly fun tracks are far more effective than "Yes Yes (Remix)," which is hampered by an uninspired chorus about stealing another guy's girl ("She wants to be on my shit / Your girl wants to be on my dick").
Aside from those coitus-centric tunes, YES! also serves as a love letter to vintage hip-hop. "Push It Along" sounds like a portal to the early '90s thanks to its dazzling-yet-restrained piano sample and an enthused turn by A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg. The song's title is recited in a series of shouts on the chorus, making it an ideal sing-along live cut. Later cut "Right Back" also has minimalist piano notes, along with rattling percussion and a confident, on-point guest verse from De La Soul about the mark they've left and continue to leave.
But the album's greatest contributor of all is, of course, the late super-producer J Dilla, whose textured soul sampling instrumentals comprise nine of the album's 12 tracks. While a few duds — especially the aforementioned "Yes Yes (Remix)" — keep this new LP from ranking among the '90s classics by any of the artists here, it's an impassioned enough effort to woo any rap fan. (Ne'Astra)