Eminem — "Without Me"
From 2002's The Eminem Show, this tune is a perfect example of Mathers' biting wit, tongue firmly in cheek (even if it happens to be somebody else's cheek). "We need a little controversy, 'cause it feels so empty without me," he sings. He's right too.
John Lee Hooker — "Motor City is Burning"
Classic blues from Hooker, who describes Detroit as being "worser than Vietnam." Never a better description of the '67 riots will you find. "I said there was fire bombs bursting all around me, baby, Ya know there was National Guard everywhere." Terrifyingly vivid.
MC5 — "Over and Over"
Yeah, you might have expected "Kick Out the Jams," but to us, "Over and Over" is the ultimate MC5 jam. From that opening little guitar jingle to the killer riffing and the screeching vocals, this evangelical-esque rock 'n' roll is why the band is remembered so fondly.
Marvin Gaye — "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"
A deeper cut from What's Going On than, say, the title track, these lyrics are as important today as they were in '71. "Money, we make it, before we see it, they take it," he sings. We can all relate.
The Stooges — "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell"
These days, it's cooler to side with songs from The Stooges and Funhouse, but this manic rabid tune from Raw Power gets our vote. "Search and Destroy" might have the pop hook, but this one has all the overt anger.
Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels — "Little Latin Lupe Lu"
Though originally recorded by the Righteous Brothers and later by the Kingsmen, most Detroiters will tell you that Ryder recorded the ultimate version. His rock 'n' soul voice just did justice to Bill Medley's party lyrics.
Negative Approach — "Nothing"
From 1983's Tied Down album, "Nothing" is probably the most radio-friendly song in hardcore band NA's arsenal. It's not radio-friendly at all but, you know, it's all relative. "Life's never fucking given nothing to me," growls Brannon. Hey, you're on our mixtape.
The White Stripes — "Hotel Yorba"
The real Hotel Yorba probably wouldn't get three stars from the Michelin Guide. There certainly isn't a spa room or any sort of room service that you'd want. However, it did inspire this old-timey gem from Jack and Meg, and for that we are eternally grateful.
The Dirtbombs — "Motor City Baby"
From 2003's Dangerous Magical Noise, Little Steven played this single on his Underground Garage radio show, and with good reason. Right in the middle of the Detroit garage explosion, Mick Collins wrote the ultimate anthem.
Slum Village — "Dope Man"
J Dilla and his boys had the smartest lyrics and the sharpest wit of perhaps all of the Detroit rappers. Though Dilla died in 2006, this 2009 record featured a posthumous performance, and it works as a vivid description of Detroit's mean streets.
Derrick May (as Rhythim is Rhythim) — "Strings of Life"
Perhaps the most well-known song in May's extensive repertoire, "Strings of Life" was based on a piano tune, which seems obvious once you know. A delicate piece of ambient electronica that proves he's capable of more than traditional techno.
Yusef Lateef — "Morning"
From the '57 album Jazz Mood, "Morning" is exactly the sort of thing you want to hear when you first wake up. With fellow Detroiter Curtis Fuller on trombone, Lateef conjures up an eerily relaxing soundscape.
Danny Brown — "Grown Up"
Danny Brown should be the next big thing from Detroit. His Old was the 2013 Metro Times Album of the Year, and he has the most unique hip-hop voice since Busta Rhymes. This single is simply the shit.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. — "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't on the Dancefloor)"
One of the buzziest buzz bands to have emerged from Detroit in recent years, DEjj have been spotted on major festival bills up and down the country, and this disco-pop-rock future classic showcases exactly why.
Jamaican Queens — "Black Madonna"
The Wormfood album, released in 2013, cemented Jamaican Queens' position as one of the major forces in contemporary local alternative music. Pop, rock, and electronica collides into a beautiful, melodic soup.
The High Strung — "The Luck You Got"
People who don't necessarily know who the High Strung are may know this song due to it being the main theme on the William H. Macy TV show Shameless. It's a hooky, garage pop ditty that serves as a great introduction to a great band.
Cold Men Young — "The Comeback"
Just one of many killer cuts from the excellent You Should Be a Fan album, "The Comeback" is packed with trademark hard beats and sharp lyrics.
Kevin Reynolds — "Liaisons"
It's house, but not as you know it. "Liaisons" is a mellow, disco-rooted tune that showcases exactly why Reynolds is considered the new sound of Detroit worldwide.
Dulcinea Detwah — "This Track Makes We Wanna Sing Like a British Rock Star"
The Brooklyn-based Detroit native rapper took her name from the original French pronunciation of Detroit, and she waves the flag with pride. This song, with its Salt n' Pepa-style verses and ultra-anthemic chorus, is glorious.
DJ Assault — "Ass -n- Titties"
We couldn't resist. After all of that seriously great music, you're going to need a giggle. DJ Assault raps about skanky bitches who need a wash with soap and water before, you know, being skanky with our anti-hero. Assault makes the Insane Clown Posse sound like Oscar Wilde, no mean feat.