Monday, August 3, 2009

Detroit rapper Baatin dead at 35


Los Angeles Times

Baatin, a rapper who co-founded the progressive hip-hop group Slum Village, was found dead Saturday in Detroit. He was 35.

Ty Townson, a family friend, confirmed Baatin's death to the Detroit Free Press. Details were not released.

Baatin, who left Slum Village around 2003, had said in interviews over the years that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and struggled with emotional problems. He embarked on a solo career, but had recently rejoined the group.

Born Titus Glover in 1974, the Detroit native adopted the name "Baatin" in the 1990s to reflect a newfound spirituality. "Baatin" was "Islamic for 'hidden,'" he once said.

While in high school on Detroit's east side, he started rapping and formed what eventually would be called Slum Village with Jay Dee -- who died of complications from lupus in 2006.

At a nondescript storefront called the Hip-Hop Shop, the group honed its skills at open-mike nights along with a young Eminem.

Slum Village was "among the best" of the hip-hop artists to come out of Detroit, Soren Baker said in the Los Angeles Times in 2000.

"Where Eminem relies on lyrics full of violence and confrontation, the trio ... takes a more universal approach, (delivering) a balanced, soulful sound and attitude that separates Slum Village from rap's two dominant trends: the glossy glamorization of excess and the hard-core gangster sound," Baker said.

Slum Village's lauded major-label debut, 2000's "Fantastic, Vol. 2," was "widely decreed the torchbearer of progressive hip-hop," and the 2002 follow-up album, "Trinity," reaffirmed that position, reviewer Kris Ex wrote in The Times in 2002.

"Trinity" contained the group's first bona-fide radio hit, "Tainted." By then, innovative disc-jockey-producer Jay Dee largely had been replaced by lyricist Elzhi.

Slum Village shunned trends and injected spiritual and social commentary into its work.

"If people could open their minds," Baatin told The Times in 2000, "they could see a broader perspective of hip-hop instead of categorizing it as 95-beats-per-minute, loud snares and muffled samples. ... It could be anything."

Baatin is survived by a son, Michael Majesty Ellis, 9; a daughter, Aura Grace Glover, 1; his parents, Howard and Grace Glover; and a sister, Tina, all of Detroit, according to the Free Press.

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