So much drama surrounded Slum Village's debut album: first they were dropped from Interscope, then Vol. 2 was released as a Euro import/boot, then they were picked up by Goodvibe, which put it out officially but later folded. The music was no less controversial - Swizz Beats keyboards were the rule and heads weren't ready for the loose, soulful beats and lazy rhyme styles. Jay Dee is an undeniably brilliant producer, and heat rises - Fantastic Vol. 2 is now widely regarded as a cornerstone of the Soulquarian sound. Okay, I'll admit Muhammed Baatin and T3 aren't my favorite rappers, but they do have a certain unique charm and they're pretty clever writers. And with a good range of styles and collabos with Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff, Q Tip, D'Angelo, Busta and Kurupt the LP stays fresh to the end. "Players" is the catchy sleeper hit, with its beautifully layered singing melody, claps and subdued rhymes. On "Hold Tight" Q Tip says "This is the last time you'll hear me ... I'ma leave it in the hands of the Slum now." If only it were so. "Tell Me" features keyboards and singing by D'Angelo to get the panties wet. "I Don't Know" incorporates James Brown adlibs all through the verses and scratches by Jazzy Jeff. Pete Rock helps out with beats, verses and scratches on "Once Upon a Time." With 15 more tracks including "Fall in Love" and "Raise it Up." Double vinyl version with pic sleeve.
- music label: Wordplay Records 2000 / Ne'Astra Music Group 2015
reviewed by ayres 08/2005