It seems like Slum Village, one of the most influential rap groups of the past decade, is marked by tragedy. Titus “Baatin” Glover passed away on Saturday, August 1 from mysterious causes. He was 35 years old. (A medical autopsy is pending.) His death comes three years after the demise of co-founder James “J Dilla” Yancey.
With his trademark turban, piercingly ruddy voice and sinewy demeanor, Baatin exemplified Slum Village’s contradictions more than any other member. On their classic Fantastic Vol. 2, he espoused spirituality and a holistic lifestyle, yet celebrated urban hedonism on record, predating subsequent Muslim thug rappers like Freeway and the Jacka.
After J Dilla left amicably for a solo career, T3 and Baatin added Elzhi to the group and landed a hit single, “Tainted,” from Trinity (Past, Present and Future). Shortly after that, Baatin went AWOL as he suffered from crack addiction and mental illness. (He would be diagnosed with schizophrenia.) Slum Village, now just Elzhi & T3, distanced themselves from Baatin — “Reunion,” the final track on SV’s 2004 album Detroit Deli (A Taste of Detroit), was considered a “wake up call” to him.
In recent years, Baatin cleaned himself up, and he rejoined T3 and Elzhi for their Rock the Bells dates this year. The trio was set to issue a new album, Villa Manifesto, in September on Barak Records. Sadly, it will now commemorate two fallen soldiers in the SV family instead of just one.
Rest in peace.