Slum Village / Dwele / Frank N Dank Phoenix, Toronto ON - May 13, 2003

Slum Village's Toronto appearance confirmed what fans have secretly known since day one — they're nothing without Jay Dee. The mastermind producer's diminished role was painfully felt on Trinity, the disappointing follow-up to the Detroit trio's impressive debut, Fantastic, Vol. 2. Now left to fend for themselves, T3, Elzhi and Fat Cat are more irrelevant than a Bachelor's degree in Bioethics. Despite his absence, Jay Dee's signature was clearly imprinted on all three of the evening's performances. Openers Frank N Dank sandwiched their lukewarm half-hour set between the Jay Dee cuts "Pause" and the dubious ladies anthem "Take Dem Clothes Off." Next, borrowing Slum Village's four-piece band and Frank N Dank's lackadaisical approach to live performances, a barely conscious Dwele took to the stage. Several indistinguishable R&B jams and 20 minutes later, it was over almost as soon as it began. When Slum Village unceremoniously hit the stage, they did little to either move the crowd or justify their reputation. Of the three MCs, Elzhi was the most animated, but even his performance was lacking. Still, a double hit of "Climax" and "Tainted" garnered a warm response from the females in attendance. Interestingly, Dwele was surprisingly absent for the latter, presumably because it interfered with his backstage nap. Although the organic element of a live band was a welcome addition, Slum Village are a far cry from the Roots. In fact, the term average has probably never been more apt. Fans of overrated MCs notwithstanding, the rest of us are advised to sit tight for the triumphant return of Dilla on Vol. 3.