A global outlook on the Detroit hip hop scene

When most people hear about the D, they immediately refer to Eminem. No wonder: Eminem is probably the most popular emcee on the planet and he’s from Detroit. However- to the real conoisseur- Eminem is only the visible part of the bubbly, murderous, grimy, Detroit scene iceberg. D12’s deepest, more consistent work has to be sought in their solo and underground work as well.

I’ve been a fan of Eminem’s music first-before I started focusing on local Detroit artists around 2003. The Detroit hip hop scene is composed of a panel of various artists with different styles. But all of then do have ( let alone the few untalented clowns from the suburbs pretending to rap): they do carry the city’s dirty, rough, grimy imprint. The 313 is the heart of Detroit’s hip hop music. A lot of artists have contributed to the scene. Some of them, like Esham ( the godfather of acid rap) , Slum Village, 5 ELA, Trick Trick and Da Goon Sqwad, D12’s Proof ( just to name a few) have pioneered it.

Most Detroit artists take much pride in the way they word lyrics and the city is well known for its battle scene that came to life thanks to hip hop dedicated people like Maurice Malone. Much underrated, but nevertheless incredibly talented Royce da 5.9 and Obie Trice are among Detroits’ most creative lyricists.

Are you curious to know more Detroit artists? I’d strongly advice you to check the local mixtapes and CDs, then. There are a lot of hidden jewels like I-Mac’s Ruthless Aggression mixtape, Uncle ILL’s Ya All Know CD, Hush’s Roses and Razorblades CD, Proof’s From Death in collaboration with Da Goon Sqwad…in addition, you can also check my archive regarding the Detroit scene at the Eminem blog:)

A lot of talented Detroit artists have collaborated with Proof-yet their names barely emerge in magazines and newspapers, despite their obvious talent.

Journalist 103 is one of them. He appears in Proof’s “Broken” song and he’s a remarkable emcee. I had the chance to review him several times. Another brilliant emcee too many people forget to put in the spotlight is Dogmatic- Kevin Bailey aka Dogmatic carries the true spirit of the Detroit ghetto. You could barely talk about Detroit hip hop without putting his name on your tongue- which will make his Sicknotes label come to surface too. Sicknotes is an example of Detroits’ amazing creativity. Malaki The Most Hi has some good Proof collaborations at his active plus some inventive tracks of his own. His mouth truly spits fire. How come only a few people name the Sleeper Cell artist when they mention the Detroit scene?

Let’s talk about Swifty Mc Vay: ever checked his Grenade Pins and Forest Fyres mixtapes? Have you checked his collaborations with Raw Collection in which his sister (Reddbone) is an active part of the team? Have you ever heard about Miz Korona, the Laila Ali of rap?

You probably think you know Bizarre? Have a look at his amazing collaborations with Detroit’s most outstanding DJ Odell Perry aka DJ P Dog.

What is so cool about Detroit hip hop is that it is tailored to many tastes. Whether you like the warmth of Latino accents brought to you by DJ Rick and Dirty Politics or the sharp, rough Streetlordz sounds, for instance. The Detroit scene is indeed multi cultural. Emcees come from different backgrounds and each of them brings a different sounds and styles in the hip hop community.

Pure rap geniuses like Mc Lazarus ( whose parents emigrated from Pakistan to Detroit) will impress many listeners with his verbal mastery. Merciless Amir’s rhymes are intentionally enhanced with a subtle oriental touch, in which Detroit meets Lebanon.

Sound the alarm, like Guilty Simpson and Black Milk said it in 2006: Detroit hip hop has some amazing talent. Many of them deserve to have their names written in capital letters.
Not those who are running their big mouths on public places or on the internet. Not the biggest Cd peddlers either. Only the hard working, the heartfelt, hip hop dedicated emcees really deserve it.

But to get more recognition from the world, Detroit artists will need to consolide their unity: this is and will remain my point of view. Deshaun Holton aka Big Proof carried a dream: he aimed at reuniting the most Detroit artists possible in their differences and make them work together.

Detroit, you can make it happen!

Copyright by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

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