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‘Pirate Radio’ gives alternative to the mainstream

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Detroit underground hip hop received a boost of energy this year with the release of the “Pirate Radio” album from 313Phresh and TrueSpeech, two Detroit emcees who perform as the collective Family Grind. The album is their statement to fans of good music that the radio does not support genuine talent, instead promoting songs from corporate-owned record labels with mostly negative messages.

“They play what they want to play; they’re in control of their programs,” says 313Phresh. “It’s just the mainstream commercialized radio that we have a problem with, that everyone has a problem with actually. But it’s very few artists who speak on it.”

TrueSpeech says artists don’t speak out because they’re too busy trying to get on the mainstream commercial radio. “It’s all politics,” he says.

313Phresh (left) and True Speech  COURTESY PHOTO

313Phresh (left) and True Speech COURTESY PHOTO

“Pirate Radio” covers topics such as the loss of innocence for young urban Americans, the excessive intoxication of the generation of youth in their teen years and 20s, as well as the artists’ own experiences of growing into adulthood and accepting the responsibilities of making a career as an independent artist.

“We wanted to give people the experience where they can hear something relevant, the complete opposite of what’s going on in the mainstream,” says TrueSpeech. “That’s the true underground spirit that independent hip hop was founded on.

“That’s the point of listening to music — you want it to take you somewhere. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have a soul, what is it really doing for you? Nothing, you’ll forget about it in 15 minutes, as soon as the next song comes on.”

The time and attention the two put into creating the 21 songs on “Pirate Radio” is evident, knowing the importance of giving listeners a thought-provoking experience, as opposed to the “shallow mindlessness” of celebrity culture. The young men simply have too much on their minds to dumb down for the promise of radio airplay.

“Each song has its own direct message, but also each song has a second meaning to it,” says 313 Phresh. “We just try to keep the listeners thinking.”

“You have to give somebody brain food, cause if you don’t, then how are they going to grow from hearing your music?” says TrueSpeech. “How are they going to grow to attach themselves to you as an artist? If you don’t feed that person’s conscious mind, what are you doing?”

313Phresh says the goal of the album is to give them an alternative. Instead of listening to WJLB, listen to “Pirate Radio.”

“You’re going to get a much better experience, I guarantee it,” says TrueSpeech.

“Pirate Radio” from Family Grind (313Phresh and TrueSpeech) is available

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