EXCLUSIVE: Kanye West Charged Slum Village $90K For The “Selfish” Beat – The Source

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J Dilla will forever go down in history as one of the greatest producers of all time.

On Saturday, February 10th, Hip-Hop fans from all over the city of Los Angeles conjoined to celebrate the life of J Dilla. In downtown Los Angeles, the event was officially deemed Dilla Day L.A., with attendees given the rare opportunity to meet J. Dilla’s mom, Ma Dukes. February 10th also serves as the exact date J Dilla passed 50 years back, suffering from cardiac arrest.

The headliners for the evening include Slum Village, the Detroit Hip-Hop group that emerged in the underground Hip-Hop scene in the 1990s, with J Dilla being a founding member. To date, the album Fantastic, Vol. 2 is revered as one of the top Hip-Hop albums, with guest appearances from Busta Rhymes, Common, D’Angelo, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Pete Rock, Kurupt, and Q-Tip.

The Source spoke with T3 and Young RJ of Slum Village to discuss the legacy of J Dilla, and Kanye West charging $90K for the “Selfish” beat with an unknown John Legend at the time.

What does it mean to be celebrating Dilla Day 2024?

T3: It’s fantastic for us, we’re always happy to rep Dilla. That’s my mans.

Young RJ: If you really want to rep him, you need to go to the strip club bro. Get you some chicken wings, make some music.

T3: You have to see a woman slide down a pole.

Young RJ:Fasho, greasy though. [laughs]

T3: Dilla was about that life, he really was. That was the inspiration of a lot of beats.

Young RJ: For sure. Don’t the beats feel sexy? It’s a vibe.

What was it like meeting Dilla in high school?

T3: When I met Dilla in high school, he was an introvert at that time. This is funny. He was really really skinny, like skinnier. I was skinny too, we was all skinny at the same time. But he used to wear layers of different clothes. He didn’t want to be skinny. He used to wear these layers and layers of clothes, and he was very introverted. I had to hear about him when a friend said “this guy got crazy beats!” We went to the house, we checked it out and the beats was insane. It was dope, and he was so quiet. He didn’t say no words. 

Young RJ: What was the haircut though? 

T3: The haircut was a fade. It was a little bald fade.

What was the moment y’all knew you had something?

T3: When we started recording records. After that one encounter, we really didn’t link after that. We linked later. We had this big thing in my grandma’s basement where we invited all the dopest rappers, DJs, MCs. We figured out me him, and Baatin, we was the best. After that, we went to Mo Master Studio. It was the cheapest studio you can go to. It was $30 an hour, which was cheap for a studio. We started recording joints, that’s when we knew we had something. At the time, we was Ssenepod. We weren’t even Slum Village at the time. 

What do you most miss about J Dilla?

Young RJ: The phone call after you play him something or put something in the mailbox, because he’d say “just drop it in the mailbox J, and I’ma hit you.” You drop in the mailbox and he calls you, you get that voicemail like “awww, man you done came with some shit. That’s some shit right there. I’ma knock it out, I’ll have it to you in a week.” Damn! One of the GOATs all time is fucking with it? That’s it.

T3: That is the greatest feeling. I used to make beats, he used to leave me in the basement of his house and go to sleep while I’m in the basement. [laughs] I knew if he said something the next day, I have some shit. If he says “3, okay! Now you cooking. Alright.” ‘Cause obviously anything he made was incredible.”

Dilla’s 50th Birthday just passed. Where would he fit in today’s landscape of Hip-Hop?

T3: Dilla is always cutting edge. 

Young RJ: He is the landscape, still.

T3: He is the landscape. He never wants to do what everybody is doing. That was never his goal. Even if he was here now, God rest his soul, he’d be trying to do the next.

Can you bring us back to the creation of “Selfish” with Kanye West and J Dilla?

T3: [laughs] J was actually there. J, tell us your perspective.

Young RJ: The real story? Because you got the PC version of the story. Alright, so we walk in the studio. Kanye’s sitting there, John Legend’s sitting there. Matter of fact, he had a burgundy polo sweater. Cashmere. We walk in there, he says “this the joint.” Ain’t no options. This the only beat we playing.

T3: He played one beat.

Young RJ: “This the beat, that’s it for y’all.” Everybody looking around like “okay, we can work with this.”

Kanye said one beat!

Young RJ: That’s it!

T3: That’s it, Kanye did not give us no options. On top of that, we paid $90K for this feature. For him to feature and the beat, $90K.

Young RJ: The only reason he chose that is because of a certain A&R that turned him down, when he was looking for a record deal. He was getting payback. 

$90K?!

T3: But it wasn’t a lot for us because we had a million dollar budget. 

Young RJ: Fasho. Plentiful.

T3: That’s when budgets were budgets. Budgets were real budgets back then. 

Young RJ: This the hook. T said “you know what, I got something for you today.”

T3: We didn’t know who John Legend was at all. That was John Legend’s first feature. 

Young RJ: So we do that, T said “I got something for it.” Kanye walks over like “yeah man, I got something I’ma add to his beat. Watch what I do.” He’s in the palace like a bongo slap, like boop! He’s going crazy, he’s selling it. I’m like Ye, I know you gon’ rap on it. He’s like “you think I should?” Yeah, come on man. You gotta rap up. He immediately goes in the booth, lays his verse. T3 lays half his verse in the part of “maybe I’m selfish, I want you to myself I can’t help it.” Next thing you know, T said “I’ma take it home, write it.” He came back the next day, laid it. Elzhi couldn’t come with nothing.

T3: So we had to wait one more day.

Young RJ: One more day. Ye like “you go upstairs with him J, make sure the verse is tight. Call me when y’all got it.” We go upstairs, we knock it out. T’s like, “That’s it.” We come back, me and T3 in the studio. We mixed the record, Kanye shooting a Pepsi commercial. He’s not even there. He’s on the phone like, “Put the phone to the speaker.” He was so busy.

T3: Kanye was Kanye. He was so popular at the time.

Y’all were at the video shoot and you couldn’t find Dilla? There were 300 women there?

T3: It was so many women there, it was ridiculous. He’s there, but I never talked to him the whole time.

Young RJ: I talked to him the whole night.

T3: I never talked to him, because I was doing my thing.

With the women? 

T3: Yes, the women. Kanye, John Legend, Elzhi. We was up there doing our things. We’re doing our routine, I never saw him.

Young RJ: I’m give you one more story before we close it out. I call him, he says,” You know what? I just got out the hospital. You’re in town? I’m coming to the video.” He shows up to the video, we siting back there.” A guy named Scrap Daddy says “this your group! You’re gonna let Kanye come in and do this? He’s killing us off!”

T3: Bullshit.

Young RJ: Dilla’s sitting in the stands like “oh word? That’s what you think?” You go back, that’s when you get all the stuff that you earn on Donuts. That’s why you hearing all solo stuff. He was making his point that “I’m unfuckwithable.”

T3: Which most of that he made in a hospital bed. He proved his point, but Dilla was always the GOAT. And still is.

How special is this day? February 10th is the day he passed, but you guys also started the album.

T3: It’s special man. I don’t like to think when a person passes and see the creator… But what I like to think about is all the times we shared together, and the blessings that Dilla bestowed on my life. If it wasn’t no Dilla, I wouldn’t definitely not be here. It’d be no Slum Village, so I think about that. He definitely was a ray of light that kept me going. Because my lifestyle back then, my parents were not here or there. When I saw his parents, I saw parents. Mom, dad, I didn’t have that going on. I was able to go to a safe space, so shout out to that. 

Young RJ: What does this day mean? I hear Dilla saying, “Fuck all that sad shit! Where the chicken wings, let’s get studio cracking. Frank, fry the greens extra crispy. Cook the wings extra crispy.”

T3: Ma Dukes come with that sloppy joes. Dilla was a big fan of sloppy joes, which is weird. He really liked sloppy joes. 

What do you like about Sada Baby? 

Young RJ: Sada Baby, original

T3: A GOAT, the G. A lot of people don’t know that he’s Middle Eastern and black. Sada Baby is dope man, and you might see him one of Slum’s album. You never know, I fuck with him. I really do fuck with Sada Baby.





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