Endorphin Bath & Todd E. Jones presents...
 Hardcore Hip-Hop Interviews
by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet

Interview: BAATIN (formerly of Slum Village)
“No Longer The Village Idiot”
An Interview With BAATIN (formerly of Slum Village)
(September 2003)
Interview by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet

    People may know Baatin as the turban head-wrapped emcee from Detroit’s Slum Village (which originally consisted of Jay Dee, Baatin, and T3). Baatin had the middle verse in their hit song ‘Tainted’ which featured Dwele on the hook. His verse started with a high-pitched voice and the question: “How many hits does it take for a record to blow?” Baatin was always considered the spiritual one of the group. He definitely always stood out due to his voice, his fashion sense, his lyrics, and his overall persona. Slum Village was praised by some of the most respected musicians in hip-hop. ?uestlove of The Roots and Common always showed love to them. In the song “Hold Tight”, Q-Tip of a Tribe Called Quest told us that he was retiring and passing the torch to Slum Village. SV has worked with Kurupt, DJ Jazzy Jeff, D’Angelo, Pete Rock, Bahamadia, Timbaland, Ms. Jade, and more. With mind-blowing and innovative production by Jay Dee, both “Fantastic Vol.1” and “Fantastic Vol.2” were heavily bootlegged. As emcee and main producer, Jay Dee eventually decided to leave the group. Elzhi took his place as emcee and T3 or Karriem Riggins handled most of the production work on their last album “Trinity (Past, Present, & Future)”. After intense touring and promotion, Baatin’s mind and body was suffering. The pressures and the scandalous aspects of the music business took a toll on his mind. Some people thought that he was crazy or on drugs. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and backed out of their tour. Eventually, he approached Slum Village and told them that his health was at stake and that he could not continue in the group. Just when the pressures would lighten up, Baatin fell into a coma. When he awoke from the coma, he lost his car and his house. Then, he received a letter, which told him that he has been terminated from Slum Village. Nowadays, Baatin is struggling but he is not giving up. Even though he has money problems and does not have an official deal, he is working hard with new management and new creative endeavors. Baatin has transformed into Baatin The Slumlord and hopes to release a solo project soon. On a warm September evening in 2003, I had a long and poignant conversation with Baatin about the music business, Schizophrenia, drugs, Detroit, Slum Village, and much more. Baatin has risen from the ashes of the burnt village like a phoenix. He is determined and grounded. No longer will Baatin be considered the village idiot.

T.JONES: “What’s going on? How are you doing?”
BAATIN: “A lot of things, man. I just had a meeting the other day with Slum Village. I met with Elzhi and T3, RJ and Tim and my new management. I found out that I won’t be apart of Slum Village anymore. I received a letter when I came out of my coma that almost took my life.”

T.JONES: “What happened with the coma? When did this happen? What made it happen? Are you okay now?”
BAATIN: “Oh, man! This happened around 3 months ago. I was sick for like 3 years. I didn’t know how ill I was. It was a mental illness that they call schizophrenia, but it affected me physically. I got sick on one tour. Elzhi once mentioned, ‘You were sick on the tour / Still you move like .. / With an attempt to perform..” So, I attempted to perform due to this illness that I had no idea was constantly going. I was thinking everything was cool until I started tripping out and going through some mental issues and going crazy. Everyone around me thought ‘Baatin is going crazy. Is he on drugs?’ That wasn’t the case. This mental illness really f*cked me up!”

T.JONES: “Did you get kicked out of Slum Village or did you quit?”
BAATIN: “I quit first and then I went into the hospital. In the hospital, I received a letter. I just came home from a tour. I went home, left my bags, went to the studio and said, ‘Man, I can’t do this any longer. It’s f*cking my health up. My health is more important.’ I let them know that I would not be apart of this for now. I just took some time to myself and that was something I needed. This was before I went into the hospital. I got some things together and man, I had to go into the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I lost my house, my car, everything collapsed on me.”

T.JONES: “You lost your house and your car. Was it all because of bills?”
BAATIN:  “It was all because of bills and me not being able to perform the duties I needed to perform with the group and sustain my career.”

T.JONES: “So, back to the letter. Tell us more about this letter from Slum Village.”
BAATIN:  “I went into the hospital and when I got out, I received a termination letter. It basically said something like ‘We hope you are in good spirits but we are terminating you from the performances and the duties of Slum Village as an artist.’ That crushed me.”

T.JONES: “What was the incident that made you go into a hospital? Did you collapse?”
BAATIN: “Overseas, I got poisoned by some shark fish over in France. That is what started to mess me up. I broke out in hives when I was on tour. People were thinking ‘What’s wrong with him?’ My face broke out and my arms. It was raw. I’m performing looking like this and no one said anything. I came off of that tour and I was sick, really sick. It was almost death. I went into a coma. When I came out of this coma three months ago, I had to find a purpose in life. I’m still living in this b*tch! It wasn’t sickness to the point of an ambulance coming but it was almost to that point where I almost collapsed. I almost collapsed at my mother’s house. My mother checked me into the hospital because I wouldn’t go. I have always been on that natural thing. I drank herbal tea and always healed myself. They took me to the hospital. I went in and got some treatment for my mental illness as well as my physical illness. I got back on my feet and I am healthy again.”

T.JONES: “Were you ever diagnosed with schizophrenia before?”
BAATIN: “Never. Never have I ever been diagnosed before. The thing about the music business being heavy on the mind is true.”

T.JONES: “The music business gave you schizophrenia?”
BAATIN: “(Laughs). You could kind of say that. (Laughs). I was going to sue but the only thing stopping me from a lawsuit is that I have 2 ½ songs to retain my publishing with EMI. I want to finish the four songs I have with Slum Village rather than suing.”

T.JONES: “Did the guys in Slum Village support you emotionally or financially?”
BAATIN: “I had no support from the guys in Slum Village whatsoever. They didn’t come visit me in the hospital at all.”

T.JONES: “What is your relationship with the members of Slum Village like now?”
BAATIN: “We’re just friends. Me and T3 have been friends for 13 years but he didn’t know what was going on with me. Obviously, there wasn’t too much of a concern. I said to myself that I had to do something with my life. I had to pursue my dreams and career.”

T.JONES: “Just to get things straight about Slum Village, who is in SV now?”
BAATIN: “Elzhi is still in Slum Village. T3 is still in Slum Village.”

T.JONES: “Jay Dee is not back in Slum Village?”
BAATIN: “No. Jay Dee is not back in Slum Village. He’s on 2 or 3 songs on the new album.”

T.JONES: “What’s the new album going to be called?”
BAATIN: “I don’t even know.”

T.JONES: “Will you be on some of the songs on the new Slum Village album?”
BAATIN: “There is a possibility that I will be on 4 songs. I’m on one of the songs they just had to turn in now and I just finished writing one of them the other day.

T.JONES: “So, what is your opinion or feeling towards Slum Village?”
BAATIN: “I was pretty pissed for a long time. I put all my heart and soul into this group and you terminate me? How are you going to terminate me when I am one of the forefathers? It’s like saying Ol Dirty Bastard is not in Wu-Tang anymore.”

T.JONES: “What is the meaning behind your name?”
BAATIN: “Baatin means ‘the hidden’ in Arabic and Aramaic. In Hebrew, it means ‘stomach’.

T.JONES: “What does the turban symbolize? When I interviewed Elzhi (almost a year ago today), he told me that you studied Hebrew. What attracted you to studying Hebrew? What does the turban have to do with Hebrew?”
BAATIN: “There was a friend that was studying ‘Knowledge Of Self’ and we underwent 22 lessons. They dealt strictly with your esoteric body, your spiritual connection to the universe, your physical connection, and your soul’s connection with our existing universe and the creator. I got into Hebrew lessons after those lessons. A guy came in and told my teacher, my mentor at that time, that he had information on Kabbalah that he would like to share with us. That’s where the turban and the head-wrap came in. He said that in order to come to this class, your head had to be wrapped in white. We did that and that’s where the turban idea came from. These lessons dealt with the 22 symbolic codes of ancient Hebrew. This is ancient Hebrew, not Yiddish. The symbols that were on stigmata were exactly what we learned. He taught us this exercise that, in the bible, is called the ‘burnt offering’ or the ‘burnt sacrifice’. He taught us about the burnt offering, burnt sacrifice that Moses and Christ did in their day. They called it Tsaidma.”

T.JONES: “They used to call you the Shape-shifter. Can you explain that?”
BAATIN: “The Shape-shifter was given me because I changed my voices up a lot in the songs. The form, the shape-shifter, comes from me having multiple personalities. It’s easy to say that I’m insane or crazy but still grounded enough where I can deal with people. When I started tripping out, they started saying, ‘This guy really is the shape-shifter’. So, I got that title from being crazy.”

T.JONES: “Do you have a favorite Slum Village song?”
BAATIN: “I would have to say ‘Untitled’. Wow! The vibe we were in when we recorded that song, man… whew! I can’t even explain it. It was crazy.”

T.JONES: “Are you working on a solo project?”
BAATIN: “Yes, I am working on a solo project. It’s called Slumlord, that’s my new name. It’s Baatin The Slumlord. I have an EP that will be released called ‘Presidential Suite’. I’m 29 and I experienced numerous years of producing hip-hop music. You can’t be hip-hop for a day and say ‘I’m not hip-hop’ another day. I’m just going into a little more commercial depth of my career now.”

T.JONES: “Are you on a label or are you shopping around?”
BAATIN: “I’m shopping around now. I have a deal with Universal but that’s distribution. I’m debating between Capital and Columbia.”

T.JONES: “Will you have anything to do with Barak Records anymore?”
BAATIN:  “Not at all.”

T.JONES: “So, you are not on good terms with Barak?”
BAATIN:  “Not really. We are friends on a personal level but not on business terms. We will never do business again. My personal business was the only business that was not handled. Everybody else’s business was tight.”

T.JONES: “What artists or group would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet?”
BAATIN: “I would like to do a song with Pharrell (of The Neptunes) and Snoop. That’s not just because of commercial reasons. These are artists that I really want to do some work with. Common. We’re gonna do some work together when I get out to L.A.”

T.JONES: “What producer would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet?”
BAATIN: “I definitely want Jay Dee to f*ck with me on this new album. I want him to do the production for the song that me and Snoop would do. He would do that beat. Karriem Riggins too. Lacks is my ace boon. I talked to Lacks and I’m supposed to get a beat CD from him soon.”

T.JONES: “You said that you did some production. ‘Trinity’ by Slum Village had some production by Jay Dee but most of it was either by Karriem Riggins or T3. Why didn’t you handle any of the production? Did you get the opportunity?”
BAATIN: “I wanted to but my opinions were not always valued in the group. I stood back a lot of times. I was always in the background in interviews too. You know, my opinions were not always what they thought was best for Slum Village. You never heard or saw the cohesiveness of all three of us. It was always T3’s decisions or Jay Dee’s decisions. J Dilla, was the builder of ‘Fantastic’ Volume I and Volume II and T3 was the decision maker for ‘Trinity’. If I was with the group on this new album, it would have been a lot more of my input but it didn’t work out that way. You’ll get my input on my solo project.”

T.JONES: “On ‘Fantastic Vol.2’, what was the symbolism of the phone box on the cover?”
BAATIN: “(laughs). Our picture coming out of the phone box? Yeah. Man, that was an idea from Chris, who was our graphic designer of that time. I guess it was supposed to give us some type of vintage look. I can’t really describe it. It wasn’t our idea.”

T.JONES: “What was the last incident of racism you experienced?”
BAATIN: “Racism? I would have to say when I was working at a job about 13-15 years ago. Maybe about 10 years ago. I was working at Bath And Body Elements. A lady came in and I asked ‘Can I help you?’ and she was like ‘No! You can’t help me!’ She was a total racist. You could just tell. There were no words to describe it. I have numerous experiences of racism at the jobs I had in my history. I experienced countless episodes or racism. I remember being a dishwasher. I went into the bathroom and one guy called me the N-word. Being politically astute as I am, I didn’t even react to it. I could have went off on the dude but it was no big deal to me. It was just a word. Me, personally, going into the lessons and being taught that the Black man is God, I had to experience that myself. I had to experience races and other creeds. Now, wisdom sent in through my travels. I had to learn to deal with people on Earth because we are all God’s children. We all have a specific purpose here. When we really look into ourselves, we can discover who and what we really are. We were born into a physical existence on Earth. We all have a purpose and we all have to learn how to deal with each other until a certain amount of time. We don’t have that much time until nature starts putting her tooth in there.”

T.JONES: “Where were you during the September 11th, 2001 Terrorist Attack? How did you deal with it and how do you think it has affected hip-hop?”
BAATIN: “I believe that I was on tour somewhere. It didn’t really affect me that much. Some things are fate. Had that not had happened, who knows what would be the existing sh*t going on here now? I think that the September 11th incident brought a lot of people together. It made the world react and stop for a second. Pause. Take a breath. Really look at what is going on and what is happening. It didn’t affect me too much at all because I had countless dreams of things that were way more devastating on Earth. I don’t know.”

T.JONES: “How long were you in the coma for?”
BAATIN: “It wasn’t long at all. Maybe a day and a half.”

T.JONES: “You said that after the coma, you lost your car, house and you were out of the group. Now, you are making moves again. How did you get from that point to this point?”
BAATIN: “I lost everything. When I went to my condo and saw my furniture outside, I had to just laugh. Everything happens for a reason, but sh*t! My sh*t was going to the right! This started slowly. I started losing stuff slowly. I can’t explain how I reacted. I am more patient than a lot of my friends because my friends would have really went berserk. I maintained. I figured that I already went insane because of the business. My business wasn’t handled right in the group and I already literally went crazy on that part. What else am I to do? I lost everything. Either I deal with it in a sane mind or I lose it, like most people expected me to do. The rumors were going around that I was drugs.”

T.JONES: “How are you with money? Where are you getting the money to do the new solo project?”
BAATIN: “I’m struggling, man. I don’t have any support or a dime in my pocket. It’s going to change though since I have a manager who believes in me. He’s a new manager and he knows that I can really pull this sh*t off. He supports me.”

T.JONES: “What is the address for people to donate money to Baatin’s preservation of hip-hop?”
BAATIN: “Titus. 17166 Goddard Street. Detroit, MI. 48212.”

T.JONES: “What’s your real name?”
BAATIN: “Titus is my real name.”

T.JONES: “You worked with Common on a track called ‘Theolonious' from the ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ LP. (It was also a hidden track on ‘Fantastic Vol.2’.) How did you hook up with Common and what was that collaboration like?”
BAATIN: “He hooked up with us about a year prior to that. He dug a lot of our music. He came to Detroit and we were honored to work with him. Jay Dee was doing a lot of production for him at the time. We did a lot of vibing in the studio together and it just worked out. He always had our back since day one, before we had a deal. He was like ‘I’m gonna walk in and get you guys a deal myself if y’all don’t get signed’. He always supported us just like he’s supporting me now through this.”

T.JONES: “What advice would you give someone who is just getting into the music industry?”
BAATIN: “Go into it knowing that there are risks but believe in yourself enough to expect the best out of whatever you are doing. Believe in yourself. See yourself in the mirror when you are in front of those 5 thousand people. You have what it takes to make it happen. Get yourself a team who believes in you as well too. That’s important. If the people who are working on your behalf don’t believe in you, it’s difficult for it to work.”

T.JONES: “There were rumors going around that you were on drugs. Have you ever done drugs at all?”
BAATIN: “No, none whatsoever. I smoke weed and I drink on occasion.”

T.JONES: “You obviously were given prescription drugs. What drugs did the doctors prescribe to you? Did they affect your creativity in anyway?”
BAATIN: “No, they helped me. They helped me ground myself. I was prescribed a medicine called Seroquel. It kind of helped me relax my mind and ground me. I don’t think that I really needed it but it helped. Again, I never have been into taking medicines. I study herbs and stuff. Ginko for memory loss. All of these herbs and remedies that I was used to taking for years did not help me at this time. The pharmaceutical medicine did help me out a lot.”

T.JONES: “What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?”
BAATIN: “People take me literally. They take everything I say literally. 50% of the times, I am not literal. They have this spiritual concept in their mind and they think that all I too deep. The truth is that I get along with pretty much anybody if they will just come and say ‘What’s up?’ and talk to me. They think that I am just the man who wore the head-wrap out of the group. I never really had a big problem though with it. I can’t really say. I get along with everybody.”

T.JONES: “Jay Dee left Slum Village as an emcee and sole producer after ‘Fantastic Vol.2’. Then, Elzhi came in for the recording of ‘Trinity’ album. How did that change the way the group worked? How did the dynamic change?”
BAATIN: “Hell yeah, it changed things. You are in a group with somebody for 11 or 12 years and you are used to the vibe and chemistry you have with that person. Elzhi showed up and it was all brand new. We had to work at it but it was fast. Elzhi did mesh right in with what we were doing. It was in the pocket. A lot of people didn’t accept it at the time but we believed in Elzhi. I still think that he’s an awesome emcee. Metaphorically, he delivers those skills. He’s like the youth. He represented the ‘future’ in ‘Trinity’. I was ‘past’ and T3 was ‘present’. Elzhi definitely held down the fort as the future representative.”

T.JONES: “Word association time. I am going to say a name of an artist or group and you say the first word that pops in your mind. So, if I said ‘Chuck D’, you may say ‘revolutionary’. Ok?”
T.JONES: “Lacks.”
BAATIN: “Future.”
T.JONES: “Eminem.”
BAATIN: “Controversy.”
T.JONES: “King Gordy.”
BAATIN: “Rowdy.”
T.JONES: “Jay-Z”
BAATIN: “Hip-hop philosopher.”
T.JONES: “Puff Daddy.” 
BAATIN: “A made man. (laughs).”
T.JONES: “Jay Dee.”
BAATIN: “The sh*t.”
T.JONES: “T3.”
BAATIN: “My friend…forever. But as far as rap, he’s lyrical. There’s a word for him but I can’t think of it right now.”
T.JONES: “Phife Dawg.”
BAATIN: “Brilliant.”
T.JONES: “Gil Scott Heron.”
BAATIN: “Phenomenal.”
T.JONES: “George Bush.”
BAATIN: “He held it down for a while, man.”

T.JONES: “When recording, do you go into the studio with pre-written lyrics, ideas, and themes or do you just let it flow in a spontaneous manner after you hear the beat?”
BAATIN: “I have to listen to the track first because the track determines which direction I am going to go in lyrically. Back in the day, it would be different. I would come to the session with a pad that had already written lyrics on it. Now, I have to feel the vibe of the track. The beat makes the atmosphere for the lyrics. First the beat, then the lyrics.”

T.JONES: “Would you go back to Slum Village?”
BAATIN: “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.”

T.JONES: “What are the chances of you getting back together with Slum Village?”
BAATIN: “Well, they have to come to me now because I went to them and gave them my apologies for what happened. I felt that I should have been apologized to also.

T.JONES: “How did Slum Village react when you were in the hospital?”
BAATIN: “Nobody even came to see me. I lost everything. Nobody called me.”

T.JONES: “Overall, how do you feel now?”
BAATIN: “I’m actually happier now than I was when I was in the group. That’s pretty f*cked up.”

T.JONES: “Are you still getting publishing money for the past Slum Village songs?”
BAATIN: “That is what is going to come back to me once I finish these 4 songs. I have publishing owed to me. They really screwed me around, man. It was for no apparent reason at all. I guess they felt it was an opportunity because they thought ‘here is a guy who doesn’t really know too much about the business’. That’s the whole thing. I didn’t have any support. I didn’t have anyone who had my back to say ‘You people aren’t doing it right’. Everyone was on each other’s side. ‘Well, my business is tight.’ When the tables were turned, why didn’t my motherf*cking man T3 give a sh*t? To sum it up, I experienced my verse of ‘Tainted’. The sh*t manifested into my life.”

T.JONES: “What other projects are you working on?”
BAATIN: “I’m doing a movie as well. Be on the look out for a movie. It’s like The Last Supper. It used the concept of The Last Supper. It is the hip-hop version of The Last Supper. I’m writing and directing it. I don’t know if I’m going to act in it. I want to find someone to play my role as Titus. That’s my name. There was a movie called ‘Titus’ already, right?”

T.JONES: “Yes, ‘Titus’ stars Anthony Hopkins and it’s actually a play by William Shakespeare. It’s actually Shakespeare’s most bloodiest and most violent play.”
BAATIN: “Okay. I’m coming with my version of Titus because that’s who I am.”

T.JONES:  “What do you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?”
BAATIN: “I want to be cremated. I probably want my ashes in an urn and have my son, my children, keep them. My children will decide what to do with them.”

T.JONES:   “Do you have any last words for the people who will be reading this?”
BAATIN: “Be on the lookout for something totally different from what I gave to Slum Village. I’m sorry that things worked out this way with me leaving and me being terminated by the group. I can’t give up. I have something else to give the world. Be on the lookout for my new sh*t, Baatin The Slumlord. I will have endless projects after that. Also, look out for the future Slum Village album. It’s not all over. I know that we are gonna get back together in a couple of years down the line and laugh about this sh*t. I feel good now. I loved this interview. I’m feeling good these days but after this interview, I feel excellent. Some sh*t is clearing off my chest. I have to say that this is one of the greatest interviews I ever had. I appreciate you and the fans. Thank you, peace!”


-interview done by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet

You can donate money to Baatin at:
17166 Goddard Street
Detroit, MI. 48212

For 2 OTHER versions of this interview, check out
BAATIN INTERVIEW at Hiphop-Elements by Todd E. Jones
BAATIN INTERVIEW at MVremix by Todd E. Jones

ALSO.. read my interview with ELZHI of SLUM VILLAGE !

You can check out SLUM VILLAGE at

 You also can read my reviews
 Slum Village's "Trinity (Past, Present, & Future)" at MVRemix.com
 Slum Village's "Dirty District: A Sequence Mix Tape Session" at MVRemix.com
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