Re-emerging Detroit Hip-Hop/Rap

As previously mentioned, Detroit’s hip-hop history is most often mentioned alongside producer J.Dilla. Most recently, new acts have taken center stage. Two of the youngest acts include Big Sean and Danny Brown, both raised in Detroit.

Each are known for different styles and content. Big Sean often refers to himself as the “Reincarnated Detroit Player”. His content is usually references styles of clothes that are thought to be characteristic of Detroit during the 1980s, women, marijuana, and slight violence. However, these references are used by him to remove himself from the poverty he grew up in, while recognizing his roots. They are twisted. Sean’s lyrical style and pace is sometimes unpredictable,  similar to the improv jazz artists of the early twentieth century. He speeds up and slows down often and at random. He is also known for his adlibs and creation of new words/slang. Check out his tribute to J.Dilla below, titled “Only Two Can Win”.

Danny Brown, on the other hand, is known for his wacky character and varying pitch. Brown’s content is similar, twisting Detroit’s unfortunate history during the 60s-80s. However, unlike Sean, he embraces images of poverty and glorifies them or adds comedy to them. He raps, “Been had hunnits…I’m lying, you know that I be fronting […] I got that income tax swag,” meaning he is caught between having money and being broke on a day-to-day basis. His unconventional hair cut, missing teeth, and stories about hard drugs have made Brown a star among, what some may call, “hipster” rap enthusiasts. Brown’s lyrics are much more controversial and adult rated than Sean’s, but is characteristic of Detroit’s hard image that many stand by.  Below are a few songs of each artist. Please be advised, the material is HIGHLY EXPLICIT and may be offensive to some people. Listen at your own risk, and visit Sean’s and Brown’s website here and here, respectively:


About makkins

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