Detroit has always had a rich music culture, dating back to the days of Motown and even farther. With key players like Eminem, Insane Clown Posse, Kid Rock, Royce Da 5’9″, and underground legend Blade Icewood (R.I.P.), shaping its sound, Detroit has never had a shortage of talent.
There’s a new fleet of artists bursting out of The Motor City that have the streets, the internet, and the industry talking. While Detroit’s current sound is impressive and infectious, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint — it carries a lasting West Coast influence, threads of Southern trap, and a tinge of Chicago drill.
Inspirational blend aside, these artists represent a movement that’s decidedly Detroit. Get your YouTube, Google, and Apple Music searches ready — these are the names from D-Town Michigan to get familiar with.
1. Molly Brazy
You’d never expect such vile, violent, and disrespectful bars from such a cute small framed girl, but Molly Brazy is out here defying the odds and racking up views. With her Draco in tow, Molly Brazy has single-handedly proven that she poses serious competition against her male counterparts. I’d love to hear her trade bars with DMV rapper Rico Nasty.
While I’m not sure if she actually has any affiliation with Blood sets, one thing I can surely tell you is that this 18-year-old has a very bright future.
BandGang is probably one of the most interesting acts coming from Detroit right now. While they’re a huge collective with more members than I can name, the 3 stand-out members are BandGang Paid Will, BandGang Lonnie Bands and BandGang Masoe. All of them are pretty hot solo, and even hotter when they form like voltron and put out a track (They also have a sub-group called ShredGang that’s generating a lot of buzz).
These kids are young, hungry and street as hell. They have a clever approach to their delivery when it comes to rapping. With a sharp ear for beats and dope hooks, the versatility between these guys are surely going to take them to levels most street rappers from Detroit have yet to achieve.
3. Sada Baby
Sada Baby aka Skuba Steve aka Skuba Sada is hands down the People’s Champion of Detroit right now. He’s one of the only artists every side of Detroit is riding with, which is refreshing because most artists from Detroit are usually involved in some type of inter-city drama. His unlimited arsenal of flows, lyricism, wordplay and subject matter are super impressive and oftentimes hilarious, while still very street. Sada Baby’s infectious visuals are pretty much making him a star on YouTube, with his street singles “Stacy” and “2K17” racking up radio spins within the midwest.
With cosigns from Meek Mill, E-40, and fellow Detroit star Tee Grizzley, it’s only a matter of time before Sada is the next rapper from The D signed to a label and selling records. Many of his videos are already at or close to 1 million views, and a couple are even past that — so go check out a few, and make sure you hit your Sada dance.
4. Payroll Giovanni
Payroll Giovanni is by no means a newcomer. But within this last year, the DoughBoyz CashOut affiliate has really stepped it up as a solo artist and creative businessman. Signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE imprint, the group never got the break they thought they would — but instead of blaming Jeezy or any other label personnel, they took their talents back to the streets of Detroit and made more noise than ever before.
2016 proved to be an amazing year for Payroll, who’s now seen as a “JAY-Z”-type figure within Detroit’s rap scene. His collaborative project with Cardo, Big Bossin Vol. 1 ,was pretty much the soundtrack to my summer. His inspirational street-orientated stories about hustle, struggle, getting money, losing money, and getting more money are reminiscent of hip-hop moguls like E-40 and Jay.
While we’re not quite sure what Pay has up his sleeve for 2017, we’re hoping it’s another installment of Big Bossin — and even better — another installment of his short film Day In The Life.
5. Tee Grizzley
Since his release from jail in October 2016, Tee Grizzley has quickly established himself as one of Detroit’s top hitmakers. He’s racked up 61 million plus views on YouTube for “First Day Out,” which went viral and touched a million views in its first month. Many people called the song a new version of Meek Mill’s “Dreams And Nightmares” intro, and even some of Grizzley’s former school teachers took to Facebook to talk about how proud they were of their past pupil.
It’s a beautiful moment when something like this happens organically — before spending 3 years in jail, Tee Grizzley was heating the streets up with a rap group called AllStar BallHard. Now focusing on a solo career, he recently signed with 300 Ent and joined 21 Savage on tour this past spring.
6. AllStar JR
With the success of Tee Grizzley, many former AllStar BallHard affiliates are also making major waves in Detroit — and AllStar JR is one who particularly stands out. JR’s rhyme style a bit more relaxed and slick compared to Tee’s brash aggression, but he still keeps things very street.
If listening to AllStar JR doesn’t make you want to sell everything you own to drive around with a pair of Cartier frames on your face, you probably aren’t listening to homie properly. “Dog,” featuring frequent collaborators FMB DZ and Sweezee Don is an anthem for anyone out here selling that dog food. AllStar JR’s use of sarcasm is very impressive too — it seems like for whatever reason, Detroit rappers are super keen on making us laugh whilst spitting bars about some real horrific shit.
7. AllStar Lee
If you haven’t guessed by now, AllStar Lee is also affiliated with the ASBH crew. His song “Fresh Prince Of Brick Mile” has gained major attention within the city of Detroit and on the internet (Detroit native Chuck Inglish, FakeShoreDrive.com’s Andrew Barber, and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s son Corey Townes have all cosigned Lee and the track). This isn’t the first time Lee has delivered something hot for the streets though — he’s been around for a while and he’s just starting to heat up.
8. FMB DZ
If raw, brash and grimy street raps is your preference, FMB DZ is the rapper you’ve been missing. The way DZ floats over beats he is immaculate, because no one song from him ever sounds the same — it puts him in very close competition with Sada for the next Detroit artist to pop, in my eyes. DZ reminds me a lot of the early Team Eastside and DoughBoyz Cashout days. His tagline #IAintGoneLie is engrained in my everyday conversational lexicon and his verses on songs like “Game 7”, “Raw” and “Dog” are damn near chant-worthy. He definitely makes music that should be the soundtrack to all of your turnarounds.
If you’re still looking to dig into Detroit’s current scene, ShredGang Mone, Cammy Bands, Cash Kidd, Snap Dogg, Icewear Vezzo, Team Eastside and Rocaine are definitely worth checking out. Shouts out to Detroit — when I make my first visit out there, I need to grab 2 pairs of Cartier frames.
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