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IT’S COLD IN THE D, Pt. 1: Detroit Rap City

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The story of the Hip-Hop scene in my hometown is not 8 Mile. While most people love the film, which starred Eminem, as well as the money, opportunity and attention it brought to Detroit. We can almost all agree that it only captures the city in a small way. Yes, we had The Detroit Hip-Hop Shop and we are a notorious battle city. We have challenged battle rappers around the world and in many instances we have won. However, battle rapping does not define our city. It does in some ways define our sound, because the essence of Detroit Hip-Hop is lyricism. So the clever wit that is required for punchlines that TKO an opponent in a battle scenario is still very present on our songs. See any Eminem verse for illustration. The most important thing that the City of Detroit would love to express to the world as it relates to Hip-Hop music and culture is that our scene is not just a scene, it is a movement. Detroit is a very musical city, as everyone knows. There is of course Motown Records, which is the archetypal Black music company. But, there is also rock music including Bob Seger, Kid Rock and The White Stripes. There is also Gospel with the Winans and Clark families. Then there is the Rap scene. Detroit artists have always been an undercurrent in the entertainment industry. Phat Kat and J Dilla were once label mates with a young Jay-Z on a label called Pay Day. Detroit’s Most Wanted were one of the first rap groups to really talk about gangster issues and flash a lot of money in a music video. Awesome Dre and the Hardcore Committee was one of the first successful Detroit artists to gain national exposure. We are still making good music here; in our big little town. Called “The Poorest City in America”, and even, “The Most Miserable City in America”, yet, most rap artists that I know from Detroit have no plans to leave it. We just throw our middle fingers in the air and keeping screaming, “Detroit, What?!” The Usual Suspects: Eminem and D12The signing of Eminem to Aftermath/Interscope Records has generated over 100 million albums sold. The rapper himself has 70 million, and then there is the Chronic 2001, and 50 Cent and G-Unit. Devil’s Night went double platinum, and the group that declared that they were not his band, are still his closest friends. Despite their loss, they persist; recently releasing a mixtape, The Return of the Dozen. Eminem “Stan” Video    The Lost Boys: Proof and J Dilla, and Blade Icewood Eph-Cee was the name of their group. It stood for Funky Cowboys. They were close friends, and they both earned international success and acclaim. They were each also 32 years old when they died within two months of each other in 2006. The loss of these two giants of Detroit Hip-Hop defines the new Detroit scene. Slum Village “Climax”The Godfather: Trick Trick Trick Trick’s debut album, The People Vs. was released in 2005 on Motown Records. Despite the irony of the label signing and the support of his close friend, Eminem, the album did not sell. The album based on his real life crime drama, having been indicted but not convicted of murder, twice. He is an imposing figure in Detroit, and epitomizes tall, dark, and handsome. His reputation is the stuff of legends; he is rumored to have stomped out numerous celebrities who have disrespected Detroit or Detroit artists. Trick Trick has a new album coming out this year on Koch.  Listen to Trick Trick’s take on Yung Berg’s visit to Detroit.These Three Kings: Stretch Money, K-Deezy and Tone-ToneDetroit radio is a difficult nut to crack. Despite international success by Guilty Simpson, his songs don’t really get airplay. But, these three Detroiters stay in heavy rotation. Stretch Money debuted with “It Takes Money to Make Money” with an album by the same name; the single blew up, making him a local household name. K-Deezy’s first single, “In My Hood”, explained that you could get shot or stabbed in his hood. His music is for the grimy and it works. With a unique voice and delivery, Tone-Tone is damn near a sex symbol. His small stature, chiseled body and adorable face make him popular with the young female set. However, his lyrical agility makes him a Detroit favorite; he is the reigning king of local airwaves. Tone Tone “Waddup Doe” VideoGirl, Interrupted: Cha-Cha, Miz Korona, Invincible and Monica BlaireCha-Cha had a major record deal, a song with Nas, and hot beats; however, her debut album, Dear Diary on Sony in 1999 tanked due mostly to lack of promotion. She is preparing a new album and has been working with her close friend Royce Da 5’9” for years. Miz Korona is lyrically a monster. She has yet to debut a full-length album but her name is legendary in Detroit and her feature appearances and shows are stellar. Invincible has performed internationally for 10 years, yet just released her first full-length solo album, Shapeshifters, this year. Monica Blaire is the songstress of the city of Detroit. Her vocal talent and range is incomparable. The Producers: Black Milk, Nick Speed, Young RJ, Mr. Porter Crafting the new Detroit sound, all of these beatsmiths learned a lot from J Dilla. Young RJ grew up at his elbow, and Black Milk was one of his new favorites. As a producer and solo rapper, Black is one of Detroit’s biggest success stories. Nick Speed made tracks for G-Unit but was lost in the shuffle when Sha Money left the label. However, he has taken to developing artists and still creating some of the hottest tracks. Mr. Porter, member of D12, he has crafted hits for some of the best, including 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Pharoahe Monch. He is filling his time lately working on Dr. Dre’s Detox. Black Milk f/ Guilty Simpson “Sound The Alarm”A League of their Own: Marvwon, Quest MCODY, Danny BrownMarvwon is currently working on a project with Mr. Porter. His lyrical prowess has earned him recognition all over the world. One Detroiter said, “I have never heard a bad song that Marv was on.” Quest MCODY was named one of the “51 Hottest Unsigned Emcees” by Vibe Magazine; he is releasing his solo debut, Light Project in August. Danny Brown is one of the dopest rappers from Detroit, period. His debut album, Hot Soup, is a banger from start to finish. Marvwon and Quest MCODY “Jump off a Bridge” VideoThis article could be a book. In fact, a book chronicling the history of Detroit Hip-Hop is currently in development. There are so many incredible artists from Detroit both new and familiar. Like:The In-Crowd: Slum Village, Magestik Legend, Finale, Guilty Simpson, Fat Ray, and Royce Da 5’9. All of these artists have garnered international acclaim for their lyrical prowess and they are still making incredible music. There are also those who are just breaking out of Detroit. Like: Marquise Porter, Black Lagoon, Street Justice, and dozens and dozens of others. If you want to know more about Detroit Hip-Hop, visit the websites: http://www.DetroitHipHop.com, http://www.DetroitRap.com, and http://www.localluv.com or you can take a trip and visit us in the Motor City. We’ll leave a light on for you.

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