Memorial tribute organized quickly for rapper Baatin
BY B.J. HAMMERSTEIN • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • August 3, 2009
As the sun set Sunday, members of the tight-knit Detroit hip-hop community gathered to pay tribute to one of Motor City rap’s brightest stars.
Titus (Baatin) Glover, the Detroit rapper who cofounded the acclaimed trio Slum Village, was found dead at the age of 35 Saturday morning.
“He taught me so much, not just musically but about life,” Miz Korona, the evening’s host, said Sunday. “The way he was on his songs was the way he was in life.”
Held at 5 Elements Gallery in Detroit, “Gone Too Soon: A Benefit for the Family of Titus ‘Baatin’ Glover” had drawn about 70 people by 9:30 p.m. and was expected to feature performances and DJ sets by Jessica Care Moore, DJ K-Fresh and DJ Sicari, who owns the gallery.
Ty Townsend, road manager for Slum Village the last 7 years, said he organized the benefit to help Glover’s family. Townsend added that a second memorial is planned for the African World Festival on Aug. 14, which is to feature Detroit musician Amp Fiddler.
“When people talk about Detroit in hip-hop circles it was because of people like Baatin,” said Kelly Frazier, DJ K-Fresh. “He brought so much energy. He was different. He was Detroit soul.”
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday it found no evidence of trauma on Glover’s body and that toxicology tests results are pending.
The Detroit Police Department said it isn’t treating the death as a homicide, unless the medical examiner provides information to the contrary.
Glover left Slum Village in 2002, later telling the Free Press he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He continued to record and play occasional solo dates before returning to the Slum fold for the group’s upcoming album, “Villa Manifesto,” due Sept. 22.
Baatin dies at 35; rapper co-founded progressive hip-hop group Slum Village
August 2, 2009
Ty Townson, a family friend, confirmed Baatin’s death to the Detroit Free Press. Details were not released.
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 would eventually be called Slum Village with Jay Dee — who died in 2006 of complications from lupus — and T3.
At a nondescript Detroit 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 groups to come out of Detroit, Soren Baker said in The 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 DJ-producer Jay Dee had largely 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.
The group’s 2000 national debut, “Fantastic Vol. 2,” landed on critics’ best-of lists and set the stage for Slum’s highest-profile commercial release, “Trinity,” two years later.
Free Press staff writers Brian McCollum and David Ashenfelter contributed to this report.