Detroit is a city that produces rappers few and far between and is not considered one of the hotspots of hip-hop. New York City, LA, Atlanta and Chicago tend to be the points of focus when it comes to rap music, and these are the places where A&Rs tend to look when they want new artists.
Midwestern cities such as Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and others really don’t get a look in when it comes to label interest, and it is even worse for areas such as Kansas City and St Louis. These cities have a lot of talent, but for the most part, artists from these cities tend to fester on World Star Hip Hop.
Often, artists from the Midwest move to Chicago or New York to get a break or, in Eminem’s case, even try LA. Detroit, over the years, has produced some great hip-hop music. However, most people still associate the city with its thriving house music scene. Spread from Chicago, Detroit began formulating its own style of house in the 1980s, and the African-American community of Detroit were involved in this.
Over the years, despite the fact that it has one of the steepest income divides in America, Detroit has come into its own with regard to rap, and we are starting to see more artists, such as Tee Grizzley and others, arrive. With that being said, we have picked out our five best rappers from Detroit. take a look at our picks below.
The five best rappers from Detroit:
5. Obie Trice
Obie Trice was raised on the west side of Detroit. In his attempt to make it, akin to Eminem, Trice began battle rapping and frequented all the events around Detroit, including the gatherings at the venue Hip Hop Shop. Here he met Eminem, and before long, he became a member of his crew D12.
Having known Eminem for years, when given his own label, Mathers signed Trice to Shady Records in 2000. On Shady Records, he recorded solo material, D12 projects and helped curate the 8 Mile soundtrack. He was featured on Eminem’s 2002 album The Eminem Show, which to this day is the best-selling hip-hop album of all time and has had a fairly illustrious career as a solo artist.
4. Royce Da 5’9″
Royce Da 5’9″ is a close friend of the rapper Eminem and knew the rapper before he broke into the mainstream. Eminem lived in the Osborn neighbourhood of Detroit, whereas Royce Da 5’9″ lived in the Oak Park neighbourhood. Royce was introduced to Eminem through his manager in 1997, and by 1998, the two had formed their duo Bad Meets Evil.
A lot of Royce Da 5’9″ success is a result of Eminem. Slim Shady helped many of the Detroit rappers he knew by including them on his projects. This led to them getting the spotlight, and this was extremely beneficial for Royce as well as others such as Obie Trice.
3. Danny Brown
Danny Brown is a truly unique character in every sense and a genuine artist to boot. The Detroit rapper is known for his quirky style, outlandish nature and genius music. With his career beginnings in the early 2010s,
Brown (real name Daniel Sewell) started out alongside G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo. Although Yayo had been around since the early noughties, they were both looking to start afresh around this time. With an opportunity to collaborate, together, they worked on what would become their 2010 collaborative album, Hawaiian Snow. Hoping that he might get signed to G-Unit Records, Brown held out to see if the opportunity would arise. However, he did not fit G-Unit’s gangster roster with his quirkiness and, as a result, did not end up on the label.
Instead, he got his breakthrough thanks to the success of his Detroit State of Mind mixtape series Brown found himself on the Rappers I Know label. On this label, he released his debut album – The Hybrid. While writing for this album, he developed his crazy style, getting noticed by the prominent underground record label Fool’s Gold Records. With distribution from Virgin, on this label, Brown found success with people loving his kooky vibe.
2. Big Sean
Former GOOD Music artist Big Sean is undeniably the closest behind Eminem with regard to sales and popularity when we’re talking rappers from Detroit. Raised by his mother, a school teacher, and his grandmother, the rapper (real name Sean Anderson) caught the eye of Kanye West after Anderson was brave enough to approach him at a radio station.
According to Anderson himself, he heard Kanye live on the radio station WDKL 102.7 in Detroit and went to the station’s headquarters to meet him. Upon meeting him in 2005, Sean asked West if he could rap for him. He did so and left his demo with Kanye. As luck would have it, two years after, West signed Anderson to his new label, GOOD Music. With bodies of work named Detroit and Detroit 2, the rapper most definitely represents his city and is featured on the Eminem track ‘Detroit vs Everybody’.
Marshall Mathers, otherwise known as Eminem, is undoubtedly the most successful rapper that Detroit has ever produced. Before his Slim Shady LP release in late 1999, Eminem was a musical genius on the verge of suicide due to his extreme poverty. The rapper was on the underground in Detroit for years, but his first album, Infinite, performed poorly and received little to no airplay from DJs in his city, and as a white rapper, everybody wrote him off.
Mathers lived in the ‘8 Mile’ area of Detroit, meaning he lived near the road that divides Detroit. The 8-mile-long M102 motorway (colloquially referred to as ‘8 Mile’) is an infamous highway that is known for effectively segregating the metropolitan area of Detroit. The inner city is rundown, and residents are primarily African-American. On the other side of the 8 Mile road, middle-class white neighbourhoods thrive. The road marks one of the steepest income divides in America.
Eminem lived on the side that marked the beginning of the inner city on Dresden Street, and that is where he stayed, crafting his lyrics and honing his skills. Of course, after he took part in the 1997 Battle Rap Olympics, everything changed for the young man. However, Whether it’s the 2002 movie 8 Mile or ‘From the D 2 Da LBC,’ Eminem has always embraced his hometown.