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What Will Happen To Detroit’s Hip-Hop Scene in 2018?

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As a freelance music journalist, I often cover different areas and their respective musical cultures. The industry moves in waves, with a couple of artists popping off from a particular city with the rest of the city following soon after. It’s what’s been happening in Atlanta for the past couple of years, with the spotlight from Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan providing the springboard for a whole city of musicians to achieve national prominence. Over time, the city comes to be the center of everything, with new housing developments and gentrification making it the pinnacle of millennial existence. Everything starts with an inkling of snow but eventually turns into an avalanche of new artists and attention.

Detroit’s been bubbling for a long time now. Eminem and D12 are only two of the tremendous number of talented artists to come from The Motor City. Recently, Big Sean’s success was the first snowflake to fall on the city. His frequent rep of the D-Town made people take notice of the city, even more than the fading light initially allowed. Dej Loaf’s success also placed a spotlight on the city, providing another snowflake to fall.

Now, it seems as if the snowflakes have been falling for the last couple of years. Allstar JR, Kash Doll. Rocky Badd, and a number of other artists have been the talk of the town, with their music frequently going viral. Molly Brazy may have gone viral for reasons outside of music, but the focus was on the town. Eastside Peezy, Payroll Giovanni, Lil Blade, Jeno Cashh, and a score of others achieved brilliance through music alone; altering traditional trap rap in new, exciting ways.

With the flurry of snowflakes now falling steadily, another chapter in the world’s turning pages comes to a close. 2018 is nearly here. What will this mean for the growing lucrative scene in Detroit?

In one word: dominance.

America has begun to look to  Detroit for some of its favorite artists and emerging talent. “So Good,” by Big Sean and Kash Doll – a bridge between the established and the emerging that has been a gut punch for expectations – is much more than a song about sex. It’s an indicator of the sounds and soul of Detroit and the camaraderie that exists when two artists of high caliber hop on wax. It’s been called one of the year’s most catchy songs. There’s much more where that came from.

Snap Dogg’s never referred to himself as a rock star. He’s simply “The Problem Child of Detroit,” a moniker he bestowed upon himself. But the frantic nature of his music videos shows that he’s destined for stardom in a way that Lil Uzi Vert currently is, but Snap’s movements are more fluid and authentic.

Another aspect of the city’s growing movement is the unflinching honesty that artists use on wax. Eastside Peezy’s catalog – from this year alone – include some of the most honest records of his to date, touching on things that most rappers glamourize instead of speaking truthfully about. This truth shows the maturity that translates to more trusting listeners in the future.

As the days of 2017 come to an end, we have a new age on our hands. Detroit music is opening up in exciting ways and will continue to push the culture forward as the year begin’s a new. I introduce to the world, the Age of Detroit.

Editorials

Asian Doll and Nicki Minaj have finally connected with each other

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Asian Doll has made it clear since she’s come out that Nicki Minaj has been a huge influence on her style. Both channel a chaotic element to their fashion choices and general aesthetic that utilizes sharp sexuality to be abrasive. They’re both two sides of the same coin, sexual, yet innocent (Nicki) while Asian is much more hardcore.

It’s been a long journey for Asian Doll, coming up and giving powerhouse performances at every turn. In a recently released picture, it looks like her journey has culminated in something amazing: the two forces have finally come together. Will this lead to the release of music together or was this just a friendly passer-by flick?

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Does @allstarjr2724 have the best video of the year with “So Lit?”

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Allstar Jr is known for his smooth, sensual hits that double as trap bangers thanks to a smart selection of beats and smooth samples. His latest hit “So Lit” is no different, being an ode to a beautiful woman who holds him down, as well as having amazing sexual abilities. His videos often feature him rapping while partaking in various activities, from shopping to hanging with the boys, to trapping. They seldom could be deemed controversial, and that works out for him and his image in the long run.

That’s changed with the video for “So Lit” that goes the extra mile. After hanging out with B. Ryan and doling out a few verses, AllStar JR links up with the mystery woman who’s at the center of the song’s message. Clad in a white robe, she slowly sheds her clothing until she’s in some lace lingerie that leaves little to the imagination. When she gets naked, things get steamy. We lose track of her head and see Allstar in what looks like sheer enjoyment. Then, that’s when the fun really starts.

Some creative camera placement shows Allstar having, what appears to be, sex with her. The bounce of her cheeks doesn’t look like something that could be simulated if they were faking; anyone who’s ever administered backshots to a well endowed woman knows that bounce. Another shot shows that he, too, is naked as well. So the question stands, were they getting it in?

The more important question is, is this the year’s best video? In terms of sheer adventurousness, yes it is. No one typically has the cahones to attempt something like this, let alone place it on YouTube. The fact that it’s shot in such a creative manner where he could deny that it was actually happening is a testament to the director’s creativity in filming the scene. There’s also technically not any body parts shown, so it probably isn’t violating YouTube’s guidelines. All in all, a gutsy move by JR.

The question stands, is this the year’s best video? I would say so. We’ve seen a surplus of posse visuals that feature collectives rapping in unison. This visual sticks out like a sore thumb because of its’ willingness to showcase sex as an artistic activity, shot in such a way that it creates a unique aesthetic. Maybe more videos should try something like this out. Or then again, maybe not. Some lackluster copycats would take away from the uniqueness of the original. Let’s leave it the way that it is.

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Editorials

After a month, here’s how @FenkellPayroll and @CardoGotWings ‘s Big Bossin Vol. 2 holds up

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The ever-looming call of summer grows closer. We will soon enter the time period of fewer clothes and more skin exposed. It’s a beautiful time of the year where frozen drinks are widely consumed, beach trips are spontaneous, and smooth, soulful music is blasted through car stereos. Payroll Giovanni and Cardo came together at the end of January for Big Bossin Vol. 2, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Big Bossin Vol. 1, that is tailor-made for summer’s weather. Whereas the first one was a brief dip into the laid-back lifestyle of the OG, the second is a full-blown vacation. It takes the concepts explored in its predecessor and repackages them, reselling a similar product back to us, the consumers.

Now that the dust has settled and the project is more readily understood, is it still as good as it was when it came out?

In short, yes it is. A project is made up of the sum of its parts. The subject matter is admittedly the biggest aspect that goes into digesting music, but, here, the delivery shines in a way that helps it to transcend time. The message’s packaging is so authentic and precise that the quality of good music shines through clearly. Cardo’s soulful, sincere, and chilling productions bring out a new side of Payroll, one that magnifies the best of his abilities and shrinks the worst of them.

It helps that the weather gets warmer and that this album is meant for hotter temperatures so that its meaning can evaporate into thin air, inspiring new understanding when this happens. The juxtaposition of smooth tracks like “Stack It, Stash It,” and “Mail Long” showcase the project’s versatility and the willingness of both artists to explore more than just one sound. “Dopeman Dreams” and “Turn Ya Phone Off” make use of magnetic refrains that add to the prestige of the album and will help it to transcend time in a way that it’s already doing but at a much larger scale.

But, perhaps the cover art sells it best. The two purveyors of rap’s new go-to sound ride in a convertible car, the blue sky and sun shining brightly behind them. This is the warm weather that we’ve been asking for; it’s only right that we have the accompanying music to go with it. Thanks to the staying power of the album, it looks like it’ll continue to pair perfectly for years to come.

 

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