IT’S COLD IN THE D, Pt. 2: Motown’s Future Finest

IT’S COLD IN THE D, Pt. 1: Detroit Rap CityPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt once called the city of Detroit “the great arsenal of democracy” during World War II, when the notorious automotive manufacturing was used to create wartime weaponry. This same city birthed an iconic revolution on the streets of West Grand Blvd known as […]

IT’S COLD IN THE D, Pt. 1: Detroit Rap CityPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt once called the city of Detroit “the great arsenal of democracy” during World War II, when the notorious automotive manufacturing was used to create wartime weaponry. This same city birthed an iconic revolution on the streets of West Grand Blvd known as Motown, blazing the path for modern-day urban sounds. Despite contemporary expansion from revered residents like Elzhi, Phat Kat and and Miz Korona, Detroit’s Hip-Hop landscape has yet to garner more attention than its text-messaging mayor. Now a newer school of Detroiters are locking and loading this historic arsenal and rising from the ashes.Black Milk    For the sake of Detroit Hip-Hop, producer/MC Black Milk brings the same essential vitamins needed to restore sound on the streets of Motown. Following the 2006 structure-breaking loss of J Dilla and Proof (D12), the city was left in mourning. However, since Black’s inception on Slum Village’s Dirty District mixtape, he has established truck-knocking beats with funky soul evocative of Dilla’s trailblazing legacy. Along with fellow beat-maker Young RJ and lyricist Fat Ray, the production group B.R. Gunna was formed. Holding their own along-side Dilla and Kanye West, the team created all but two tracks on Slum Village’s third LP Detroit Deli. Consistently, Black has exhibited the crème de la crème lyrically with beats to match, since his 2005 debut Sound of the City, Vol.1. Black’s production credits also include names like Canibus, Phat Kat, Lloyd Banks and Pharoahe Monch. With his 2007 sophomore cut “Popular Demand” and 2008’s collaboration with Fat Ray The Set Up – Black is putting cheesy rappers and pseudo-gangsters out to pasture. His slated projects with artists like Sean Price and Royce the 5’ 9″, will ensure he leaves a memorable impression.  Muscling true Hip-Hop’s rise toward the top, Black Milk is skimming excess curd from the game. Black Milk “Sound The Alarm” VideoGuilty Simpson    Guilty Simpson is Hip-Hop, in every thuggishly browbeaten bar, he spits. Having a co-signer like the legendary J Dilla attesting to your dopeness can only mean colossal things popping for the Detroit-bred lyricist. As a member of the Almighty Dreadnaughtz crew, Guilty first emerged on the 2003 Jaylib track “Strapped.” Even before signing to indie label Stones Throw Records in 2006, he has contributed countless guest appearances  like the label’ s infamous collaboration with Adult Swim Chrome Children Vol. 1 & 2 and Dilla’s The Shining. When it comes to microphone checks, he is truly the hood’s elephant in the room, discharging stellar performances like Hollywood has DUI arrests. With enough strong-arming swagger to mount the tip-top of Detroit’s Renaissance Center skyscrapers, Guilty Simpson is proven guilty on counts being sicker than your average. His 2008 critically acclaimed Stones Throw debut Ode to the Ghetto solidifies Guilty past protégé-status toward a heavy-hitter in his own right. Guilty notably smashes the competition like a courtroom gavel amid boss-like production by Madlib, Dilla, Black Milk and Mr. Porter (D12). His gritty brand emanates representation of the everything rugged about the Murder-Mitten city.Guilty Simpson “Get Riches” Video                                                                                                                                                                                                            Waajeed    In Arabic the name, “Waajeed” means finder or seeker. Therefore, it is no surprise the Detroit-bred experimentalist and producer, with the same name usually finds samples, rummaging through discount crates at record stores for wack-sounding vinyl. This innovative beatsmith is not a music miser nor does he enjoy listening to crap, but he digs transforming dull rocks into a polished gems. “I really want to do something fresh,” he said. “Doing that challenges you a little more to do something outstanding.” Hailing from Detroit’s eastside community of Conant Gardens, Waajeed was one of the founding members of the group Slum Village, before their mass notoriety began. As an aspiring producer, Waajeed quickly went from designing the cover of Slum Village’s 2000 disc Fantastic, Vol. 2 to producing numerous tracks on their 2002 album Trinity (Past, Present and Future). Yet as a true artist, he still finds ways to create colorful art, with audible tints as vivid as Pharrell’s Ice Creams. One half of the rap/R&B collective the Platinum Pied Pipers, Waajeed understands the brilliance in the intact and obscure, like only a progressive artist can. He basks in the culture, pushing Detroit Hip-Hop to the forefront with bling47, a comprehensive website and online community reserved for what is musically popping in the D. Using turntables and switchboards like a painting canvas, Waajeed’s mark may be difficult to pin but draws listeners in like a Venus Fly Trap.  Invincible    Don’t let the bra strap get it twisted, Invincible is one of the illest up-and-coming lyricists that have ever touched a pen. “I’m striving to be one of the best period, not just one of the best with breasts and a period,” Invincible said. Never-mind that she basks in the silky-soulful ambience of Detroit’s musical history and culture. Sneaking into 21-and-up open-mics at the ripe age of 15, Invincible was fiending to spit, like a pack-a-day habit. The next year she began organizing her own all-age shows, collaborating with Michigan artists like One.Be.Lo and Athletic Mic League. Debuting with ShapeShifters, on her own label EMERGENCE, Invincible wants to destroy all conventions and stereotypes associated  with female rappers, using the mic as the sledgehammer. Invincible’s attraction has nothing to do with curves or what fills skin-tight clothing. “Females are not just one-sided,” she says. “The industry is lazy and doesn’t know how to market females as the multi dimensional people they are.” A part of the all-women Hip-Hop collective ANOMOLIES, she has held her own beside names like Waajeed, Talib Kweli, MC Lyte, Pharoahe Monch, The Roots and Bahamadia. These connections sparked interest which led Invincible to a spot as a lyrical sketch writer for the MTV’s Lyricist Lounge show. Invincible is not all about wrecking the mic. She is an avid activist, advocating youth, social change, injustice and police brutality.  Invincible “Sledgehammer” VideoParadimeDetroit has brewed DJ/rapper Paradime like a fine ale or lager. Doubling as a turntable wrecker and supporting MC for Motown favorite Kid Rock and solo artist. Paradime has been instilling the Hip-Hop in the rap-rocker’s shows since Uncle Kracker left in the early 2000’s. Co-writing country fried rap hits like “Cowboy,” “Hillbilly Stomp” and “Cocky,” the Hip-Hop cowboy has hailed him as next in line for emerging D-town talent. Forming his own label Beats at Will Records, in 1998 and exploding with his first major album “Paragraphs,” Paradime has been a critically acclaimed artist with Detroit media for years. Yet many may have never heard of him outside scratching and mixing for local artists such as Guilty Simpson, D12 and F.O.S. Sweeping up numerous nominations and awards at the annual Detroit Hip-Hop awards, Paradime has made a name for himself in the city. Spouting off humorous rhymes and wordplay, Paradime sticks his raspy unapologetic stamp on Detroit Hip-Hop.Paradime “The Reaper” VideoFat Ray    When you’re the typical fat kid in the hood, you are definitely no stranger to defending your territory. This is what makes, west side Detroit MC Fat Ray an ideal emissary for the Motor City. He may not be defending his stature in games of the dozens as much anymore. Instead, the phat lyricist is dispersing his witty exchange via Hip-Hop beats, clobbering the competition. With the cocky swagger of an MC twice his size, Fat Ray leaves garbage reckless in the dust. Spouting his lyrical chest-beatings beside J Dilla, Phat Kat and Trick Trick, he also shed words on the B.R. Gunna street anthem All I Need, featuring the legendary soul group the Dramatics. His raw braggadocio and clever delivery gave way to bringing the championship belt on BET’s 106 & Park home to the D. But Fat Ray is not just sitting idly on Motown’s Hip-Hop waiting list on the rise, releasing 2008’s The Set Up, a critically acclaimed joint banger with rapper/producer Black Milk. Thanks to his big personality and presence on the microphone, Fat Ray can now reserve his ’yo mama’ clowning for devouring wack MC’s. Fat Ray & Black Milk “Can You Picture This” VideoAlpha-Bet (producer)From A to Z, if you need beats to satisfy the gutter-talking rapper, fresh-to-death lyricist, or television jump-off, look no further than Detroit producer Alpha-Bet, bringing the noise. The C.E.O of Bang on the Table Productions, Alpha-Bet has paved his own lane in Detroit Hip-Hop. With an ability to mold his sound to fit any type of rapper, Bet has constructed scorchers for talent ranging from Bizarre (D-12) to MC Lazarus, hailed as next on the menu by FM98 WLJB Detroit. Though he is a vet in the Detroit Hip-Hop game, Bet has flown under the radar with fire, now emerging as one of the city’s hottest, most versatile beat-makers. So much so, he doesn’t even wait for Hip-Hop to cut him his checks, producing music for MTV, Speed Channel, USA Network, and Cingular/AT&T. Bet’s ventures with making music for television led to creating the tunes behind the original Discovery Channel documentary, “The Real 8 Mile.” He is not just a run-of-the-mill Hip-Hop producer, but more like a multi-faceted innovator which granted him the nomination of “Detroit Producer of the Year” in 2006 & 2007 at the annual Detroit Hip-Hop awards. Bet is also on schedule to produce tracks for Young Jeezy’s USDA label and Def Jam and Koch Records to extend this cat’s already extensive resume.  FinaleIn respect to Motor City lyricist Finale, he brings the best of the city on wax, with an old school mindset and plenty of originality to match. Finale does what the name suggests, providing hard-hitting wit, optimal word play and nimble ability to ride a beat like a Yamaha. Performing next to some of the dopest MC’s in the biz, he has rocked shows with everyone from Invincible, Dilla and Black Milk to Camp Lo, Phat Kat, One.Be.Lo and Decompoze from Binary Star. Due to this strong network and real street knowledge, Finale carries all of Detroit Hip-Hop on his back and not letting the pressure faze him. “I want to sound like my city,” says Finale. “I’m just a broke rapper from the east side of Detroit trying to make it. But I want to set myself a part, I don’t want to sound like a typical Detroit rapper.” Finale said the median lies in his music embodying the struggles, resilience and creativity of Detroit. Producing his upcoming solo album entitled Pipedream and a Promise, this aspiring Hip-Hop talent displays his hard knock hustle through passion for the game. For many Detroit artists, drawing from the influence of the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye is inevitable. But Finale like other Detroit cats have also found Hip-Hop camaraderie with globally circulated artists like Lingwistiks Crew out of Amsterdam and Paragon hailed from London, embracing the culture outside of Detroit, Michigan’s river walk and Great Lake boundaries. But Finale is no closing credits MC, with more albums in the works than time on the clock. This dude is certainly the climax of rap at its best.  Honorable MentionsBuff 1 and the Athletic Mic League Octane and IlliteNametagLa FamigliaF.O.S MC LazarusMarvwonQuest MCODYDanny Brown