The city of Detroit has received many a mention on “trends to watch” lists over the last two years or so–mainly because everybody was watching to see how the bellwether metropolis would respond to the government bailout of the automotive industry and a housing crisis that trumped even Miami and Baltimore’s. The Green Economy seems like the only intelligent response to both issues. But though it may be some time before Mayor Dave Bing‘s initiative to reclaim as much as a quarter of Detroit’s urban prairie and convert it to urban farmland bears um, fruit, a very different kind of renaissance has taken place in the Motor City this year. In the absence of any kind of studio system or music industry–and in an era when regional scenes seem oddly absent from music–Detroit has emerged as an unlikely stronghold of underground rap, a kind of anti-Miami. Only fitting then that Okayplayer tapped frequent Metro Times (and LargeUp) contributor Jonathan Cunningham to run down the Detroit players (and longplayers) that defined this phenomenon–and  1/11/12 seems like as auspicious a date as any for the last of our Top 11s of 2011 (but stay tuned for the Top 12 upcoming artists to watch for 2012!)



  • JB1

    Yo, that’s kind of whack, man. Whatever happened to “Never do what they do?”

    • JB1

      I want to clarify that I was referencing the “Ro Spit” video.

  • spew120

    No Quelle? Are you kidding me?

    • J

      He got an honorable mention on the last link… with Big Sean.

  • GeeOne

    dam there are alot of dope artist out of Detroit….but NO ELZHI ! WTF! ??? Okay Player and whoever put this list together gets no credibility from me. This is poor Journalism .

    • thomas

      i hope your being sarcastic

    • Pooz30

      Elzhi was # 1 on this list bro… go to page 12

  • bux10

    Where’s the love for Apollo Brown? Dude is my favorite producer out right now. From The Left’s Gas Mask, The Reset, Clouds, and the joint he put together with Hassaan Mackey, Apollo is killin it.

  • sam

    This has to be one of the worst lists put together and shows it is done by a Detroit outsider. The scene here is incredible and filled with talent but half these artist are not even dropping anything or working the scene in Detroit. Come out to a club on the scene on a Saturday and listen to people who are blowing it up right now before you put this together.

  • “Notching 33 million YouTube views for the music video “Lighters” in only five months says it all.”

    Using that as an example to gauge Em & Royce’s success on their EP says it all. You chose the most non Detroit, least Bad Meets Evil song on the entire EP. That song was put on just to push the EP. Lyrics sub par. Production terrible. How do you use a Bruno Mars throwaway to illustrate the success & “Detroitness” of BME? SMH

    Below average article good sir. Co-sign some of what you said but overall, poorly written. Ok, bye. 🙂

    • g8rbootz

      I agree man. If you’re gonna mention that collab, don’t mention Lighters. That song sucked and d-bag Bruno Mars was only on there to sell a radio hit. The album otherwise would’ve been a perfect representation of Detroit. Fastlane was a much better single in my opinion.

  • Khalil

    “Up up down down left right left right B A B A select start” Danny Brown is that nicca. Love to hear this kid rhyme!

  • cashout doughboys gotta be on ANY Detroit list, shout RO & Brown & my nigga Speedy. UM2-City of Joe 2012 first quarter…yo y’all need a MC outta here I can Mickey Factz him Free DRG

  • Jay-B

    Some good albums on there, but I was surprised no Apollo Brown either – the guy has been doing it all for the D: The Reset, Brown Study, Gas Mask, Clouds, and Daily Bread all in like a year and a half after winning that red bull thing in Detroit. All good tho, guess it’s just taste, but I definitely vote for Apollo Brown on this one. Maybe next year, I just read he’s got a project with OC.

  • What about Hasaan Mackey & Apollo Brown?

  • Pingback: Bianca Bee » Ro Spit Recently Featured on OKP()

  • seandammit

    the danny brown video link is incorrect.

  • Godzillaman

    Glad to see my mans OneBeLo getting some shine. He’s so under the radar it drives me nuts. So talented.