Remains of the Day Pt. 2: Detroit’s DJ House Shoes Talks Love, Loss, and Letting Go (of Dilla and Proof)


In Part One of “Remains of the Day: Detroit’s DJ House Shoes Talks Love, Loss, and Letting Go (of Dilla and Proof)”, the now-L.A. resident talked about what he is letting go in terms of his hometown and two friends he lost forever. gets a candid glimpse at one of the names who will go down in history as rubbing elbows with and helping to launch some of Detroit’s biggest rap records and names. Check out Part Two of our exclusive interview with DJ House Shoes: You were definitely a foundational part of the Detroit Hip-Hop community. When you look back on that, what were some of your fondest memories?

House Shoes: It’s just an honor to be in the equation. Cats put the Detroit Ambassador title on me, and I’m honored for that, but at the same time, it’s just another box that somebody is going to put you in. I’m honored to have been at The Hip Hop Shop, f*cking with P, and Dilla, and Em. I’m honored to be a part of that serious lineage that we come from. I’m honored to have been able to break Dilla’s sh*t in the D, to have been a part of breaking Black Milk, and pushing Danny Brown’s sh*t in our Hip-Hop scene, and then they took it around the world. You DJ’ed at St. Andrews, which was later portrayed in 8 Mile. How did you start playing there?

House Shoes: Fall of ’93, V-Styles would come up to Eastern Michigan University where I went to school and would take me down to St. Andrews, The Rhythm Kitchen, and just seeing that we had our own Hip-Hop sh*t, it was bugged out. I got kicked out of Eastern and spent the rest of my book and tuition money on records.

I would take a little stack of records down to St. Andrews every Friday night and see if I could get the last 15 minutes, at the end of the night this little white motherf*cker on stage trying to DJ. I would try to do different sh*t, do a lot of ill remixes over different sh*t. One night, one of the main DJs got into a fight with somebody, and I got the job, and the rest is kind of history. I was St. Andrews for 11 years. You were there when Em was just coming around. How do people respond to that when you tell them, ‘Yeah, I knew Marshall’?

House Shoes: Uh, people are like, wow. But everybody was there from Em to Proof to Fuzz –  some of the best rappers and some of the best people you ever met. Baatin (Slum Village) dancing, Wajeed (Platinum Pied Pipers) chilling, all of the sergeants-at-arms of our sh*t. My favorite memories were getting records, getting the white label for “Shook Ones” three months before that came out. I liked breaking records; that was my favorite part of DJ’ing at St. Andrews – having a strong influence on the ears of our scene during the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. Let’s talk about Dilla. Describe your relationship.

House Shoes: That was my man. I met Dilla in ’94. He played me some music, I loved that sh*t, and I had a platform to be able to cram that sh*t down motherf*ckers’ throats every week, so I did. He respected my passion for his sh*t. That was my man; I would go over there and smoke, chill for hours, and just listen to him play music. It was crazy. You named your son after him.

House Shoes: Yes, I did. James DeShaun. Let’s talk about the middle name; let’s talk about Proof. What do you miss most about him?

House Shoes: Man, just his energy. Proof was probably one of the best people I’ve ever known in my life. It’s such a void. Even almost six years later, you can still feel something missing. With Dilla being gone, you can feel the musical void, but with P, he was so involved in everything back home. He was the glue that held everything together. What do you wish that Detroit Hip-Hop knew about itself, if anything?

House Shoes: How respected our music is worldwide, internationally. To understand that our city has some golden sh*t that nobody in the city pays attention to. I’ll probably catch some heat over this sh*t, but more suburban cats know who the f*ck Dilla is than the average person living in the city. Cats in Switzerland and Vienna know all the words to all of these songs that motherf*ckers in our city created. I remember the first time I went to Paris, I was DJ’ing, we got to spot early, and the DJ was playing Marvwon’s joint (“This That”) from Sound of the City (Black Milk’s debut album), and cats was singing every word. I was like, if only Marv was here to see this sh*t. I think about when I came around in the late ’90s, and the time I spent as a part of Detroit Hip-Hop as some of the most beautiful moments in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. What do you wish the world knew about Detroit Hip-Hop?

House Shoes: Honestly, they already know. Detroit, in my opinion, is one of the most influential and well-known sub-genres of the art form outside of the original incarnation of New York Hip-Hop. I think the key is… I don’t give a f*ck about everybody, I stick to my peers, the OGs, and motherf*ckers who have a lot of respect for the genre. It would be great financially for these artists if everybody in the world knew about Detroit Hip-Hop, but the people who do just have really good taste in music period. Detroit Hip-Hop is the best sh*t ever.

House Shoes’ debut album, Let It Go was released in June on Tres Records. Full of both the darkness and desperation and the hope that springs eternal in Detroit, Let It Go features two-discs one full of standout features from a dozen artists from across the country, especially Detroit; the other features the instrumentals. Let It Go is available on iTunes and other online music retailers.

DJ House Shoes is a touring performance DJ and has been tour DJ for artists like Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and his good friend, Mayer Hawthorne. Follow him on Twitter (@HouseShoes).