Mic Levels Up: Supa Emcee
Supa Emcee is of a special lineage of Detroit hip hop, representing the legendary underground group Almighty Dreadnaughtz, as well as the Iron Fist Records collective, a label founded by the city’s beloved emcee Proof. Supa Emcee was mentored in the rap game by Proof, and proudly champions his legacy as a vital part of his own spirit as an artist.
In 2011 Supa Emcee released his latest album Supremacee, setting himself up for an active 2012 to support the project, as well as prepare for future productions with Nick Speed and Konphlict of Almighty Dreadnaughtz.
Perhaps most important to his international exposure was his feature on the latest album from J Dilla, Rebirth Of Detroit, where he was a featured lyricist on the album’s first video single, “Dillatroit”. The song has given fans around the world a glimpse at an artist that epitomizes the rugged side of Detroit hip hop.
Supa Emcee also just recently received the honor of being named Hip Hop Artist of the Year at the 2012 Detroit Black Music Awards .
Common Breath Media: Supa Emcee, the super hero with a microphone. Detroit hip hop has a reputation for breeding a variety of emcees in all styles, some smooth and silky, but you’re known for attacking the beat.
Supa Emcee: A lot of people might say I’m an aggressive rhymer, where I’m from is aggressive. I’m an aggressive person. So when you hear me on that track, I’m speaking definitely from an aggressive side of Detroit and an aggressive side of this movement.
CBM: That aggression is a part of the city, there’s a lot happening here to get people riled up. A lot of that comes from the city not having its money right, we’ve got our talents and abilities lined up, no matter what you do, but the corporations holding the currency stopped cutting the cuts.
Supa Emcee: My thing is, I’d love for the corporation to give me a check then I can give you a check, and him a check, and her a check. Come in here and give him a check, and we can all check. Square business. That not only perpetuates us financially, or perpetuates your personal goals, my personal goals, but also affects where we’re at, because if all this money in production that’s being spent, if it’s all honed here, come on.
CBM: And in the music business, the Motown Records label was about getting the business circulating. That’s how we know the music industry should be working for us.
Supa Emcee: That’s a Dilla song, “let the dollar circulaaaaate”. They know, they do it. But we’ve got to be in those positions to get that money. Ain’t nobody gonna give you no money if you don’t have no business plan, ain’t nobody gonna give you money if they don’t even see that you can reproduce the money that they give you. That’s industry, that’s the corporate boardroom.
CBM: Especially in this business because everyone knows the record stores are gone, everyone knows that the music promotion is rigged. Potential investors know it, the fans know it.
Supa Emcee: That’s why you’ve got so many indies, because people are like ‘you can’t tell me that this group puts out the only brand of music that we can enjoy’. No fucking way. I’m not saying that this person or each individual shouldn’t be able to play their hits, but it’s a bunch of hits. I’m not saying that’s everybody that comes out because some people are really garbage, it’s a lot of that.
They downgrade what an emcee is, if you understand, there wasn’t really many people that could rap. But if you could, he’s like a wizard or something. He’s like Merlin. You was just looked at like, “wow, he can actually put words together, make them rhyme and talk about some stuff”. But then now you’ve got everybody doing it, but then say you’ve got thirty people doing it when it was only like two. But you’ve really only got like eight real sweet artists out of that thirty. The rest is just in the way.
It was really about the passion for the writing and for the art of rhyming. A lot of these people that are doing it now, to me there’s no love for the art. It’s love for everything that the art brings you, or that you can pimp off the art. So when you do that it gets corrupted.
I like jewelry, but a chain don’t make me a dope artist. A ring or a watch don’t make me a dope artist. Me putting the music together in my own lane in my own language makes me a dope artist, and being able to stay original in an unoriginal formatted flip of what we do.
For a large portion of hip hop history, New York and the east coast dominated. Detroit was coming, we had the Motown, but that’s now hip hop. I’m talking about when we had Smiley, Merciless Ameer, Jack Frost, and those artists had what you would call a birth of Detroit sound. A.W.O.L., Kaos and Maestro, when they was doing it, they was coming with it. New York and the east coast dominated, but this new little baby was coming to what it is right now.
Detroit hip hop, we were coming into our own, then it got to the point where people started trying to sound like something else, because we are influenced by the media and the outside music that we listen to. I think what Detroit really started doing, artist wise, was we stopped listening to this artist and that artist, and that is why you can hear a different original sound.
If you sitting in a room, and you’re cut off from all that, creatively, you still have the access to culture and you totally develop what is Detroit hip hop, and that’s why each one of these personalities sticks out.
Here, I’m amazed. You get these spurts of ridiculousness with the artfrom because we are honing our own style, so now you are hearing Detroit.
One of the greatest rappers in hip hop history came from here, and the greatest producer. And their influence in the game is gargantuan. And because of them hip hop is totally infected.
MC Breed was on a track with 2Pac, that was unheard of. Do you know when I saw that video I damn near fell out, I was like “yo, MC Breed, we’re banging ‘Aint No Future in Your Fronting’”. Ok he’s from Flint, but that’s like Detroit, what are you talking about, he’s from here. Just look at the impact. Who does MC Breed sound like?
CBM: Who sounds like MC Breed is the better question.
Supa Emcee: Right, who jacked him?
We just want to be held as great. I just know that Detroit has its saga of hip hop.
And the young battle cats that’s coming up out of here, stupid.
CBM: That’s the real exciting business because that’s the opportunity to leave your legacy with the younger generation. You’ve got a chance to mentor artists.
Supa Emcee: We’re doing that though, a lot of people we might not build up close and personal at their crib with, but there’s been a lot of people that came and hollered at me, I’m like “hey make it happen”. If you’re going to say “Supe influenced me”, do that, make it happen, because that’s what I’m doing, I’m doing it, you know what I’m saying. I just came from that, Nick Speed got me in there doing a hip hop day camp.
CBM: Hip hop is definitely in the day to day education curriculum for young boys and girls these days.
Supa Emcee: And just on the learning tip, academically on that tip, I think that rhyming and the usage of rhyming and just the repetitive of learning the lines, that’s also teaching, also educating. I don’t know too many people that’s really going to have words that they’re saying and not really want to know what they’re saying. Elevate your game with the vocabulary.
It also teaches them to think quick and to want to educate themselves to want to know, because rhyme writing is literary, just like writing a story. You are writing a story, but now you’ve got to make it rhyme, to the beat, the right beat.
Right now, people don’t really know what is dope, and if we’re going by the standards that are set by the forefathers of hip hop, some of this shit out here is not dope, some of this shit out here is just being Kool-Aid pumped to your ass.
How do we go from Eric B and Rakim or Run DMC to today? Those are real lyricists that took themselves serious.
CBM: And when people listened to them and allowed those voices into their lives, they took themselves serious. If you attach yourself to garbage artists, what’s that doing to your self esteem?
Supa Emcee: Thank you, it’s turning you garbage, but what’s the point when the garbage artists become the popular artist, and then the garbage is being sold? Now everybody wants to rap garbage.
When an artist can tell you “we don’t give a fuck about lyrics”, what? And still sell?
Everybody has got a standard of living in their head that they’re thinking is that highlife. So they already set the standard for living the highlife. I’ve got a Bentley, I’ve got a mansion, I’ve got four boats.
If you’ve got that type of standard set in hip hop, why is there a bunch of court jesters running around? You still have to respect what was put in motion before you were here. You want to keep the perpetuation of this.