It's undeniable that the late Titus "Baatin" Glover had a series of vocal cadences and styles, unrivaled in the history of Detroit hip hop. He was the spiritual force of Slum Village, often donning his signature turban during the group's most successful years, often called "the soul" of the group. Glover would've turned 38 this week, but as hip-hop fans worldwide know, Baatin died from undisclosed causes on July 31, 2009, leaving more questions than answers. It also closed a beautiful life peppered with brilliance, fame, personal demons and, eventually, a debilitating mental illness that led to his downfall.
Some of his Detroit musician friends think he should be remembered for far more than the troubles that plagued Glover near the end of his life.
"Baatin was as important to Michigan hip hop as J Dilla, as Big Proof, as MC Breed, or any of 'em that are no longer with us," says former close friend and musician Leaf Erikson. "We need to uphold his legacy. We cannot forget our heroes."
Erikson's hosting the upcoming tribute concert, "An Evening With Titus," that'll celebrate Baatin's music, his spirit and to ensure that he's not forgotten.
"It's great that we celebrate Dilla at the Fillmore," Erikson says, "he deserved that. Let's not forget that we lost Baatin too. Don't let him be such an afterthought."
Raised on Detroit's east side, in the same neighborhood that reared such musicians as J Dilla, Amp Fiddler, Waajeed, and T3, Glover was a music savant from an early age. Besides singing and rapping, longtime friend Malik Alston remembers Glover's other skills. "I knew him back in 1991," Alston remembers, pensively. "He used to be a dancer. He used to jit a lot, and do almost Cirque do Soleil types of moves." Alston also served as Baatin's vocal coach: "I taught him a few things, but really he learned a lot on his own. He was a great student of music. He used to do these Sammy Davis Jr. imitations all the time and he could scat. He had an uncanny knack for mimicking people."
It's unlikely anyone will ever accurately mimic Baatin. Dude was a true Detroit original.
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 at the Magic Stick (4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit) with 5ela, Malik Alston, Last Ones Out, Joel "Fluent" Green, Hugh Whitaker and hosted by Leaf Erikson; $15 in advance, $20 door.