As the world gets ready for the release of the new album from J Dilla, The Rebirth of Detroit, Detroit Hip Hop artists are taking center stage for their contribution to this historic new music release. Lo Louis, the pioneering emcee known as one of the city’s greatest to ever hit the cipher, from Laswunzout to the Cardi Boys, has been one of the contributors to The Rebirth of Detroit, a testament to the authenticity sought for the project by the Yancey Media Group.
In the early 1990s in Detroit Hip Hop, the scene developed with a core of young artists dedicated to the lifestyle, including Lo Louis. Before there were official venues for Hip Hop parties, new venues were created by the people, from the Hart Plaza and the malls to Stanley’s Rhythm Kitchen and Cafe Mahogany, the culmination of which was the now legendary Hip Hop Shop.
The influence of the artists upon each other during the era defined Detroit Hip Hop’s greatness. The destinies of J Dilla and Proof were to be the most prolific and affecting artists from the city, but the crafting stage of skill was always a true collaboration.
Common Breath Media: Lo Louis is widely acknowledged as a reflection of Proof as an emcee, and Beej a reflection of Dilla as a producer. With no exceptions, any Hip Hop artist that ever came from the Hip Hop Shop community was directly influenced by those creating around them. The shared experience was the essence of the cipher.
Lo Louis: We all grew up together. We’re all in each other.
Everybody was looking for the common thing, the vibe. Just the music brought us all together. Kids, now we’re all men.
That is the thing with Detroit. When we were at (St Andrews) and it was like a Slum Village set, like (DJ) Dez or (DJ House) Shoes or somebody was playing, some Dilla stuff or maybe he would come in and play something, you could actually look around, from the bartenders to everybody, everbody moving in unison, like one big waterwave or something. Everybody on the same vibe like no matter the color, old, young, you had no choice.
CBM: The passing of J Dilla in 2006, along with Proof in the same year and Baatin in 2009, left the city’s Hip Hop community heartbroken and searching for leadership. Now in Detroit, new media companies and grassroots organizations are building through the city’s culture creators. There truly is a reimagining of the city, and Hip Hop is playing a big role.
Lo Louis: We ain’t gonna stop until there’s a different Detroit. There’s a different type of mood around here, and that’s what we’re after. It’s Hip Hop involved, but it’s a whole other agenda too. We have to change where we’re at, and it starts with us.
Up until this point, we’re still in the womb, pre-natal.
I think seeds have been planted, we’re just so competitive. It’s just a competition in the D but I think everybody loves each other, everybody has got respect for each other. Even if cats don’t always be around each other, cause when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in a while, no matter what you heard, you still get a handshake and it’s still comraderie, because we all grew up together.
It’s time for a new Detroit.
CBM: The evolution of the city evident, and The Rebirth of Detroit promises to be one platform for Detroit Hip Hop, the legacy of the greatest producer of all time coming home to collaborate with some of the finest emcees Motown has to offer to the world. J Dilla’s legacy continues to grow throughout the world, and the people he affected are realizing their own greatness and influence.
Lo Louis: That is the Detroit sound. You’ve got Motown, then you’ve got Dilla. That’s the Detroit sound, period.
All the producers give him respect, all of them. I haven’t heard a producer yet that hasn’t said J Dilla when they’re naming their favorite or their influences, they’d always be like ‘J Dilla’. It’s the truth, them beats talk to you, that was like a song in itself without words. You don’t even need no words to put out this Rebirth project, it could’ve just been beats.
CBM: Detroit is a world center of music and culture. When Hip Hop became a dominant influence for urban youth, Detroit adopted it as its own and changed the vibe. That’s a testiment to the contributors.
Lo Louis: I wasn’t on the same stupid stuff as other people around my age, my friends dead, going to jail, robbing folks and stuff, man I’m trying to walk to the record store and get the new tape and write down all the lyrics they say on the tape and learn all of so-and-so’s lyrics before tomorrow in school, I wasn’t thinking about that stupid shit or whatever man.
Hip Hop, we might have to be up on a pedestal, you know what I’m saying, maybe we can teach everybody something. Maybe we need to be on a pedestal, maybe this needs to be the first all Hip Hop city, we need a Hip Hop city council.
Hip Hop is still what it is when it first started. Fresh. You know what I’m saying, it’s what everybody wants to be, everybody wants to be fresh.
Hip Hop music probably got so many people out of so many situations. It can change people’s mindstate.
CBM: The city’s Hip Hop scene is as diverse and balanced as it ever has been, people are truly what keep the movement going.
Lo Louis: Detroit is more over the edge, it’s just amplified. That’s all a lot of people got. They don’t got no jobs, they don’t got nothing else but that. Eat off of that, live off of that, that’s what people have got to understand, it’s hard for a man to get kicked down doing the only thing I know how to do.
I think it’s saved a lot of lives, and I think it’s one reason this mug is still going like it’s going today, and I’m talking about the world, because we needed something to pull all our races together. At least something where we could all listen to each other or be familiar, more accepting.