By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
“If you could make music for the world, who would you be?
How would it sound? How would it feel?
Would it make you think of Motown and the heart that pound
The beat in the street, Dillatroit this is 313” — Supa Emcee, “Dillatroit”
“Dillatroit” is the latest hip hop song from Detroit to make its way around the world. The new hit single is from the posthumous album by celebrated hip hop producer J Dilla. “Rebirth of Detroit,” released in June by Ruff Draft Records, has 21 songs featuring J Dilla’s production and original rap verses from many of the city’s most talented rap artists.
Dilla’s reputation worldwide as one of the greatest musicians of his era continues to reach new heights, over six years after his death from a rare blood disease. “Dillatroit” is a tribute to the joys, pains and struggles of Detroit and the music that comes from the Motor City.
The single features verses from Supa Emcee, Nick Speed and Guilty Simpson, and was released as the first official music video from “Rebirth of Detroit,” directed by Oren Goldenberg for Cass Corridor Films. The video has currently been viewed over 40,000 times on YouTube, with comments being left from fans around the world.
After Ruff Draft Records began rec-ording for “Rebirth of Detroit,” both Supa Emcee and Nick Speed got a private listening of the J Dilla beat that had been chosen for them. The artists were instantly excited for the opportunity to make the song.
“We knew what we had to do, as soon as we heard the beat and how good it was, we knew how good we had to be,” says Nick Speed.
With their city going through so much hardship, the artists decided to use the song to let the world know they have not lost hope amid the struggle.
“We knew what we had to talk about, capture the moment of how everybody was feeling, put the real truth in it,” says Supa Emcee. “The beat was telling us what to say. It has to be real, it has to relate to life.”
Highland Park’s Supa Emcee is a celebrated veteran of the city’s hip hop scene, having previously been a featured artist on Iron Fist Records and a member of the Almighty Dreadnaughtz. He has released several albums independently, with more projects in the works scheduled for release this year.
Being a part of “Rebirth of Detroit” is helping him earn more fans for his solo work.
“This project has definitely added a lot to what I’m doing personally,” said Supa Emcee. “The project introduced us to a lot of things. I’ve got fans that I didn’t have before. They’ve been checking out my videos, hitting me up on Twitter, wanting me to get on other new projects that are coming out. It’s doing its thing for me — not just for me, but the city as well, and I’m truly blessed to be a part of the project.”
Nick Speed is a multi-talented hip hop artist, gaining a solid reputation as a rapper but most successful as a music producer. He has credits with several internationally known hip hop artists, including a song on the triple platinum release of 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Trying” soundtrack in 2005.
For him, to be featured on the J Dilla album, as well as be named music arranger for the album, has been one of the highlights of his career.
“’Rebirth of Detroit’ was all about showcasing Detroit talent,” says Nick Speed. “We’re talking about some of the best music in the world when we’re talking about J Dilla. We didn’t take that lightly; we took our chance and really went 110 percent because we were really waiting for that moment to be on something so great.”
“Ecstasy and pain, ultra hard, dramatical
We bogart a attitude, old scars get tatted too
Come from the Hart Plaza, murder car capital
Broken dream boulevard, heard it all avenue” –
– Nick Speed, “Dillatroit”
Guilty Simpson, the third artist to contribute a verse for “Dillatroit,” is already an internationally known solo artist and fellow member of Almighty Dreadnaughtz. He was a frequent collaborator with J Dilla, and adds a recognized name that has helped the song reach a bigger audience.
Because “Dillatroit” has reached fans worldwide, the song has the opportunity to help inspire young men and women in the city. Supa Emcee and Nick Speed are both active in their communities, using their talents as hip hop artists to reach out to youth and help direct them to a career in music.
“(The song’s success) helps the community, too,” says Supa Emcee. “Just for some kid or some person to walk around here thinking that they may not be able to achieve a certain goal, they can see us.”
J Dilla’s “Rebirth of Detroit” is available at major music stores, and via www.officialjdillamerch.com.