Detroit hip hop dominates fall album releases
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
A worldwide audience awaits Detroit’s slate of autumn hip hop releases. Many of the artists represent a mix of independent and signed performers, who have influenced the sound of popular hip hop today. Most hope they can generate sales revenue to help rebuild the city’s music industry.
Clear Soul Forces’ new album, “Gold PP7s,” was released Sept. 17, and new fans around the world have become excited for their sound. With energetic rap flows and beats that showcase a sophistication well beyond their years, the group represents a return to the classic hip hop styles that sparked imaginations about what hip hop could become through passion and originality.
Clear Soul Forces just returned from a European tour that included two shows in Paris, earning a phenomenal response from audiences. Their album was released on the national record label Fat Beats, and the four young artists are positioned to be a creative influence for years to come.
Detroit-based Yancey Media Group is taking their business to Los Angeles, signing with Delicious Vinyl to deliver the new album from Yancey Boys, “Sunset Boulevard,” debuting on Oct 29. Sunset Boulevard features the legendary J Dilla’s posthumous production backed by raps from his younger brother Illa J and longtime collaborator Frank Nitt. Their new single, “Quicksand,” features Common and newcomer Dezi Paige from Los Angeles.
Black Milk is releasing the “No Poison No Paradise” LP on Oct. 15, long-awaited new music after 2010’s “Album of the Year”. A double LP collectors’ edition will be sold, and featured guests will include Grammy Award winners Dwele, Robert Glasper and Black Thought of The Roots.
Black Milk fans anticipate the evolution of his melodic synth and hard drum production, musical roots he shares with cousin and fellow producer, Black Bethoven, who will release his debut album on Oct. 22.
Black Bethoven’s “Heat” LP will be fueled by the release of the single, “3,” featuring Detroit hip hop icons 5 ELA and Pierre Anthony — who was awarded best R&B artist at this year’s Detroit Black Music Awards. Black Bethoven is a part of the artist collective STARFLEET that includes 5 ELA and DJ LaJedi.
Also on Oct. 22, Black Bethoven’s brother and emcee Nametag will release a remix to his latest album, “For Namesake,” with producer Nameless, a project that continues to receive support from fans of underground hip hop.
313Phresh and TrueSpeech, two young up-and-coming Detroit emcees who have earned the respect of many local veterans, will release their debut album, “Pirate Radio,” Nov. 5. They hope to create prosperous independent careers in music with their brand, Family Grind.
Slum Village and Big Sean have influenced the sound of popular music today; and both recently released albums that will continue to draw attention throughout the year.
Slum Village has embarked on a European tour through Oct. 5 to promote their latest album, “Evolution,” with a visit to South America scheduled Oct. 10. The group’s current lineup hopes to rock with fans of their classic catalogue under founding member T3’s direction.
Big Sean will tour the United States and the United Kingdom throughout the rest of the year in support of his summer album, “Hall Of Fame.” He has been the biggest voice of Detroit hip hop on popular radio for the past two years with a number of hits.
Detroit hip hop is also known for wild styles, and Danny Brown currently carries the torch as the drug-fueled darling of popular music media. His upcoming album, “Old,” on Fool’s Gold Records will be positioned to sell big numbers after its Sept. 30 release.
On Nov. 5, Eminem remixes his own wild style for the album “MMLP2” featuring the song “Berserk.” He is nearly certain to own the popular music world when the product hits shelves, commanding media attention that will rival Bieber and Beyonce.
Underground hero Guilty Simpson also recently released new work. His new album “Highway Robbery” is available now. Boldy James’s star is rising; he is set to release a new album, “My 1st Chemistry Set,” with The Alchemist, who has produced for popular rappers like Nas and Lil’ Wayne. 14KT’s instrumental album, “Nickel and Dimed,” is already receiving strong reviews as a soulful addition to his collection as one of Michigan’s best beat makers.
This fall, Detroit’s releases represent an unprecedented time in hip hop music history. Few other cities, have so many of the most influential hip hop artists of their time releasing full length albums within a short period is perhaps unprecedented. Hopefully they can use their position and status to help build the local music economy for the future.