Detroit hip hop is finally outgrowing its local-talent-deserving-wider-recognition, charity status. Leading the D through its growing pains is Da Ruckus. As forerunners of the Detroit skills-first aesthetic, producer-MC Hush and rapper Ill have never been ones for the obvious sampling and MC superheroics of more prominent, coastal hip hop. But while, in the past, the duos two-turntables-and-a-microphone purist ethic yielded results fine for battles but a little flat on record with Episode 1, Hush and Ill bring together a matured musical sensibility that finds a deeper cohesion in its less obvious grooves and tighter emceeing.
The standout track here is "We Shine," a pro-Detroit anthem that should be required listening for anyone who would doubt Detroit hip hop has its own point of view. Hush builds the track on layers of atmospheric, techno string samples that swirl and flow with the same kind of moody dignity that he, Ill and guest rapper Eminem rhyme with. The three trade verses, alternately stating Detroits case and dissing those who would who doubt them: "You couldnt be shit if you came out my ass-crack," raps Ill "Dont know much about Chicago but I can still make illa-noise." Eminem adds, "Detroits a madhouse, so I dont get it when I hear my city badmouthed," then threatens to leave people who do "with more holes than a Lil Kim radio edit."
Even when theres the inevitable lapse into some gangster shit ("Paper Chase"), Hush perks the track up with a wicked soundbite from an ATM. And on "150 MCs," Da Ruckus turns hip-hop acts names into a cleverly smooth narrative. Throw in a vintage funk jam ("We Came Here To Party") to end the whole thing, and Episode1 isnt just tight, its a pretty accurate depiction of a day in the strife. But as Hush says, "Dont ever try to say this is a ghost-town," no matter how scary it gets.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.