J-88 (aka Slum Village) – Best Kept Secret (2LP)
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For those into Slum Village's Fantastic, Vol. 2 who wondered where the first volume was, this short album provides a missing link. Masquerading under the moniker J-88, the members of Slum Village -- James Yancey, RL Altman III, and Titus Glover (also known as Jay-Dee, Baatin, and T3, respectively) -- released Best Kept Secret in July of 2000. This album contains songs from the rare and highly bootlegged Fantastic, Vol. 1 that weren't on Vol. 2, as well as a few new songs and remixes. It's just too bad that the album's ten tracks total less than half an hour. But if it's quality, not quantity, that counts, Best Kept Secret is a worthy effort by Slum Village's alter ego. Jay-Dee showcases his trademark production and arrangement in the laid-back beats and melodies that carry the album. His unique and refreshing style make every second worth listening to, especially "Look of Love, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" and "The Things You Do." In addition, the remixes of some of the originals by Madlib and I.G. Culture add different sounds to the album, while still maintaining Jay-Dee's musical standards. Unfortunately, the lyrics of MCs Baatin and T3 don't live up to the originality of the music. Although they use clever phrasing and have good delivery, their rhymes are full of the usual misogynistic clichés about women (of course, referred to in a different way) and sex. For that reason, this album is better suited to background listening, when you can appreciate the music without having to listen to the words.