If one could gauge wealth by the influence and love one spreads, then Brian Harmon, known as Champtown (or Champ for short), is one of the richest men in Detroit. You may recognize him from his appearances on VH1’s “Kid Rock: Driven” and the “Before They Were Stars” episode on rapper Eminem; but this Detroit rapper is much more than a guy who knew some famous people before they hit it big. He is an innovator, a mentor and a staunch supporter of the Detroit music scene.
His label, Straight Jacket Records — which touts everything from rappers to soul singers — is much more like a family than anything else. “I have to love you to work with you,” he explains. And for any artist who wants to work with the local godhead, the feeling has got to be mutual. It ain’t easy being on Straight Jacket.
Much like Berry Gordy and Motown Records, Straight Jacket’s artists must go through a training period. “They learn about production, how to treat people and how to stay loyal,” he explains.
For Champ, loyalty is an essential element to the game.
“For the last few years I have been underground developing my arsenal,” he explains. “I trust every single one of my people.”
And now, after tests have been passed and products are ready, Straight Jacket announces — for the first time — the label is ready to spotlight its entire stable of artists in one night under one roof. And even though the music is a unique hodgepodge of modern music, Champ explains that the combination of genres “just works.”
The lineup includes: R&B singing of Angela Davis, “urban rock” from Yang Ku, hip hop and rap from Mike Spears and Tekneek, a performance from Champtown himself, and Straight Jacket’s heavy hitter, the female rapper D’Phuzion (you might remember her from her “battle” scene with Eminem in the movie 8 Mile) will perform. —Eve Doster
See the Straight Jacket Records Unleashed show at the Emerald Theatre (31 N. Walnut, Mt. Clemens); call
586-913-1920 for information. Wednesday, Sept. 22; doors at 7 p.m.