Progressive-headed hip-hop emcee Invincible (Ilana Weaver) fell in love with southwest Detroit when she lived in New York City. She’d usually hop a Greyhound and get off in Detroit and chill out at the Vinewood Women’s Collective in southwest before heading on to Ann Arbor.
When Invincible moved back to Detroit in 2002 (to work with a youth collective called Detroit Summer), it made sense to take an apartment on West Grand Boulevard. She’s been in her current crib for two years now, her third on the Boulevard. It’s nestled between two abandoned houses and sports a balcony, a garden and a backyard fire pit.
Not that she’s home much. Ilana travels, tours and collaborates all over the country. She’s lent her lyrical skills to everyone from the all-female Anomolies crew out of New York City to Carl Craig’s Detroit Experiment, Athletic Mic League, Underground Resistance and Wajeed and Platinum Pied Pipers.
Her own mindbendingly sharp album Shapeshifters drops in spring. That’s after she returns from Palestine. She left last Sunday for a couple of weeks as part of the U.S.-Palestine Youth Solidarity Network, which helps teach Palestinian kids arts and media skills to help them tell their stories. Ilana lived in Israel until she was 7 years old.
“If you’re from the Middle East you get politicized early,” she says.
Invincible’s an activist at heart: Where others see problems, she sees opportunities for new community-based solutions. And that’s exactly how she sees the D and why she loves her West Grand crib. “I love the Boulevard,” she says. “You can take it all over the city and see a different side of the city at each turn.”