Mike Check: Detroit, Flint, and The New Sound in Michigan
Written By: Mike Double G
New York was the birthplace of hip-hop and was a breeding ground for up and coming artists until the south took over in the early 2000’s. Atlanta is still the top city but there is a lot of talent coming from elsewhere. In 2021, Detroit is one of those cities. When people think of Detroit and hip-hop they automatically think of names like Eminem, Royce Da 5’9”, or Big Sean. These are the guys who showed it was possible to make it as an artist from "The Motor City” but in 2021 they don’t represent the sound of Detroit. Rappers like Icewear Vezzo, Babyface Ray, 42 Dugg, Sada Baby, and Tee Grizzley would be a better example of the Detroit sound. Flint is another city that is on the rise in Michigan. Some Flint artists include Rio Da Yung Og, Louie Ray, RMC Mike, and YN Jay. The sound of Flint is very similar to the sound of Detroit since they are only 45 minutes from each other. Together they have made a huge impact on today’s sound.
The new sound in Detroit has been described as “basement” type beats. It is somewhat similar to drill as it has a lot of bass and grimy sound. No one has capitalized on this sound more than Icewear Vezzo. Vezzo is a veteran in the game who has just started to get mainstream attention at 29. That is old by rapper standards. Max Beatz is the producer for most of the hard beats you hear on Icewear Vezzo’s Rich Off Pints and Rich Off Pints 2. Besides the sound, Icewear Vezzo stated on “The Breakfast Club” that they have been able to make hit records with songs lasting only one or two minutes. This is a growing trend in the industry as it helps streaming numbers. Listeners are more likely to replay a two minute song rather than a five minute song.
The “basement” sound is big in Michigan but mainstream artists have also begun dabbling with these kind of beats. Big Sean’s previous work may not be the best representation of today’s sound in Detroit but he is paying attention to the new sound in his city. His most recent project with Hit-Boy is titled What You Expect. On this project he has a song called Offense which has that “basement” sound. He also picked the perfect features by having Detroit artist’s Babyface Ray and 42 Dugg on the track. Outside of the city Moneybagg and BIG30 used this kind of beat on there single GO.
One of most popular producers in Michigan is ENRGY Beats. He created the sound in Flint. In an interview with No Jumper he talked about how quarantining gave him a lot of time to sit at home and make beats. ENRGY first started making beats when he was three years old on PlayStation. He grew up listening to 36 Mafia, UGK, and 90’s west coast rap. ENRGY’s beats are sample heavy. Some producers shy away from samples because they think they’ll make less money. A lot of today’s music are “flips” on older songs so it makes sense that ENRGY has been successful with this approach. The first person to rap on EMRGY’s beats was Ysr Gramz. Gramz then connected ENRGY and Rio Da Yung Og which led to Rio’s best friend RMC Mike and Rio’s half brother Louie Ray. Louie Ray brought along his best friend YN Jay and the rest is history. KrispyLife Kidd and BabyTron have also worked with ENRGY and have become significant to the new sound in Flint.
Michigan has many young stars on the rise and plenty of veterans to offer guidance. We haven’t even talked about Boldy James who just signed with Griselda Records. Boldy is in a completely different lane but he and The Alchemist could be nominated for a Grammy for there project Bo Jackson. Michigan has several artists in every sub genre of hip-hop. You have lyricists like Eminem, street rappers like Icewear Vezzo, mainstream rappers like Big Sean, the boys in Flint, and Griselda’s Boldy James. Michigan may not be as big as Atlanta when it comes to hip-hop but they are the closest thing to it.
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