Slum Village and Athletic Mic League put on vintage performances Friday night, and the raw and oppressive atmosphere of the Blind Pig – which felt like a sauna given its steamy and stale air – worked as a perfect conductive medium through which the performers and their adoring fans could pass energy to each other, counterintuitively enlivening what could have easily been an uncomfortable and deflating environment.
Port Huron-based group the Lyricists began the evening’s musical proceedings with a strong though short set. Following them, AML took the stage and performed tracks from their various releases, including the appropriately titled Sweats & Kicks. The League opened with “The Declaration,” a raucous anthem that immediately incited excitement in the crowd. That enthusiasm remained a constant throughout AML’s set, which concluded with the fan favorite “Got ‘Em Sayin’.”
“Tonight’s show was beautiful. The crowd was so energetic; there was so much love in here. It was so hot, but nobody left. Ann Arbor’s hip-hop scene is huge right now,” said the League’s Trey Styles.
Slum Village – who were the main attraction and did an eclectic set – agreed with Trey.
“The fans were incredible. They showed us so much love even though it was hot as hell in here,” said Elzhi.
T3 added, “There was a lot of love out there and we had a ball.”
Both Elzhi and T3 received so much love because the MCs did a tremendous job on stage with their live band, one that performed instrumental versions of many favorite Slum beats like “Raise It Up,” “Get Dis Money” and “Tainted.” Prior to the show, T3 had voiced concerns that SV had not yet found its target audience, yet their performance on Friday may have helped change that circumstance.
SV appeared to be in a zone, seamlessly moving from song to song while covering for noticeably absent members Jay Dee and Baatin, the two other key Villagers. While their attendance would have simply improved what was already a fine performance, it did raise questions given the recently transient nature of group membership.
Jay Dee is notorious for rarely performing, however, as Elzhi explained, “Baatin wants to do his own thing, while representing Slum at the same time. He’s pursuing his own career, like Jay Dee did, but you will still hear Baatin on the new record (expected in August), and we support that brother every step of the way. There is nothing but love for him, man. We’re family.”