Belly-VIBE-5 Belly-VIBE-5
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Views From The Studio: Meet Songwriter Belly

Belly reveals how he landed on The Weeknd's chart-topping album and more in VIBE’s latest edition of Views From The Studio.

Flight Klub Recording Studio sits on a sleepy, unassuming block in New York City's Garment District, hidden between an inactive thread and supply storefront and industrial scaffolding. It's a premier studio that artists and producers alike use as an escape, a musical getaway to create freely from the radio noise and static cling of the outside world. Despite its grandiose word-of-mouth implications, its front door is actually a riddled freight elevator, conveniently stained with a surprisingly glamour-free garbage stench and miscellaneous liquids puddling in its metal crevices. Nevertheless, it's just the kind of gritty ambiance that Canadian rapper and songwriter Ahmad Balshe, better known by his stage name Belly, works best in.

"I love it here," says Belly, who has spent a decade cultivating a name for himself in the industry, of New York City. While the Palestinian emcee recently rose to acclaim in the states due to amassing several co-writing credits on frequent collaborator The Weeknd's chart-topping 2015 LP, The Beauty Behind the Madness ("The Hills," "Earned It," "Often," among others), those further up north have known him as a solo star whose debut album and slew of mixtapes dating back to 2005, added JUNO Award-winning (basically the Canadian version of the Grammys) to his moniker.

On a balmy August afternoon, Belly is catching a vibe in the metropolis, having chose the dimly lit recording space as the haven to put his newest project on wax. Now, with a Roc Nation deal and his first project in four years pushing his solo career back to the forefront, there's much anticipation built around the wordsmith.

Here, Belly reveals how he climbed Canada's rap ranks, landed on The Weeknd's chart-topping album, and the one word that describes signing to Roc Nation nearly a year ago in VIBE’s latest edition of Views From The Studio.

You have a very diverse background, being born in Palestine and moving to Ottawa, Ontario before your teen years. How did you get into rap? 
When I came to Canada, I would see videos on TV and stuff, and I was like, "Yo, this is me right here." My first two albums that I ever owned were Doggystyle by Snoop and Ready To Die by Biggie. I used those albums to learn English because I was still using broken English. Those albums shaped the sound and style of my music today.

That's interesting. Prior to forming your own musical taste, what were your parents playing in the house? 
Honestly, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. Aside from like Arab music, that was like the only foreign music at the time that we were listening to.

Would you say your background has influenced your music at all? 
Growing up in the Middle East taught me to be hospitable and respectful. It gave me a lot of culture and made me very family oriented. At the same time, it taught me how real life actually is. By the time I made it to [music], it was like a whole different world. It was like a complete culture shock. I think all of my experiences kind of shaped what people hear today. I try to always include my actual experiences in my music. 

Can you recall what sparked your interest in songwriting specifically? 
When I was really young and in school, I used to write poetry a lot so I was really good at rhyming words my whole life. I think that was like my prerequisite into writing songs and making music.

What were those first bits of poetry about?
I was always trying to get some girl so I'm sure it had something to do with some girl I was trying to get or some poem for the prettiest girl in school or something like that.

Did you get her?
I always get her [laughs].

So, how did writing poetry in school service itself into a career?
Well, before [a career] I put out a series of mixtapes in Canada, which nobody was really doing back then, and we did crazy numbers with them. That's what really led to me even being known enough to be able to drop songs like "Pressure" and my early singles.

"Pressure" was one of the standout singles from your debut album The Revolution, which won a JUNO Award for the best Rap Recording of the Year. What do you think helped your rise? 
I think it was something new to everybody. I kind of learned the game from this side. I was coming out here a lot, learning things and just watching the hustle was like the most eye opening thing for me to see the real street hustle that took place, selling CDs on corners and all that and having street teams really wilding out, making a difference. When you go somewhere presence-wise, people feel it. They just all walked in dressed the same. This is like the takeover, and I think I learned some of those things and brought it up north, and it was like unstoppable. Nobody had ever seen nothing like that before.

There weren't any other artists on that same wave at that time in the city?
Nah, I wouldn't say there was. When I first started doing that, there was nobody doing that or no one at least to my knowledge doing that. For me, when I was basically trying to reapply what I learned up north, I wasn't thinking about singles, and I wasn't thinking about mainstream or crossing over. I didn't care. I cared about making mixtapes. That was like the coolest sh*t to me when I came, especially coming to New York and seeing culturally how much impact a mixtape can have on your life, and that's really how I came in the game was with the mixtapes. By the time I did the mainstream stuff, it was like that's the only thing left for me to do. I had three successful mixtapes at that point, and it was time to do something else.

Many people today, mainly in America, were introduced to you through The Weeknd. 
Man, he's a real one. He's one of the special souls in this thing, and he's been the same since I've known him. I've watched his life go from having nothing to having the ability to have whatever he wants, and he's still the same guy, and everything is focused on his music and how good his music is. Like the amount of genius that he brings to the table when he walks into a studio is like the reason why he's still here, and he's been able to put out so much music and people can still f**k with him on both sides. His songs can go number one and culturally he can still impact just as hard, which is something a lot of people lose. Like they have one or the other, but I feel like he still has both.

How'd you guys end up working together? 
We actually didn't work together for like the first three, four years we knew each other. We were just homies. We were friends. I was doing my thing; he was doing his thing. When we worked for the first time together, it was just naturally. Just walked into the studio like, "Oh sh*t, this is hard. Let me jump on this." That's how we came together. We never forced it.

Haven co-written many platinum and number one songs, is it ever hard to find that balance of what you should give away to another artist and what you should keep for yourself? 
I think nowadays it's a lot easier for me because I know who I like to work with and who I don't like to work with, and then I know when I make something that kind of feels like me, [where] I have too much of my personality in it to give it to somebody else, that's when I know that I got to keep this. I honestly don't really do songwriting sessions anymore if it's not with people I actually f**k with.

What would constitute somebody that you f**k with because there are some people who treat it solely as a business and keep it pushing. 
I think just someone that I have a real relationship or at least like a real friendship--even if it's not a friendship--like a real connection with because it's going to translate into the music. As good as you can be, if two people with stank attitudes walk into a room and want to make music, they can both be geniuses, and they're going to make sh*tty songs. That's just gonna happen because the vibe isn't right, and the energy isn't there.

What's your writing process like?
I think for me, I write my best songs when I'm tormented. Even with songs and songwriting and stuff like that, I can't sit there around a bunch of people and do it. Like I have to be by myself in my own feelings, in my own thoughts and then I think I can express some of the sh*t that I don't feel like I want to say around everybody. Once it's in a song, it's in a song. It doesn't matter.

How does that lend itself to The Weeknd's multiple chart-topping hits?
With him, it's all him. I'll be honest with you. Like it's all his vision. It's his creativity. It's his conceptualizing. That's his baby. That's his masterpiece. I've been blessed enough to be thought of when he needs me and when I can complement something he's doing, but I could never take credit for the stuff I've done with him.

Earlier you mentioned your best work is done when you're tormented. Do you ever get writer's block or feel like you have to go and live life to really hone in on what you're saying?
My schedule doesn't allow it. I've been trying to take a vacation for two years. I just want to go somewhere for like four days, but just doesn't happen. This is all I do. Every day I walk in here, I know I can create something. I'm confident, and that's why I never feel no way about trying to hoard my music because the minute you do that, subconsciously you're telling yourself that you can't deliver something like that again. With me, I'm so open with giving away music because I feel like I can walk back in here and do it again.

That's interesting, especially after the whole world waited for Frank Ocean's album for four years. You also had a similar time lapse between your most recent project. 
I can only speak on myself and for me, but I did have people waiting for a long time, I can't lie. Sometimes people have to realize it's more than just songs and putting out music. It's mental health involved a lot of times, and a lot of artists go through personal s**t. A lot of artists are emotional and, again, I speak from my own experience and my own views, but that's what caused me to not even want to be in the spotlight anymore. I was loving the fact that I was just writing songs behind the scenes, still getting to make money and make music, and that was cool for me, but this is cool too so this is the part of my life I'm living now. If I decide one day I can't handle this mentally no more or whatever the case may be or this is taking too much of a toll on my family or whatever it is, what's to say I'm just gonna be able to pump out music for people every day? We do have a certain obligation as artists, but we also have certain responsibilities as human beings to ourselves and to the people we love. It's a hard line to walk. I'm learning that right now with just so many things changing for me recently and just seeing how [I'm] losing certain people along the way and just things that you've never expected. My music is only half of it.

in real life.. life goals || roc/xo

A photo posted by Belly (@belly) on

You've been signed to Roc Nation for almost a year now. I'm sure that was a full circle moment for you. 
It feels amazing and it felt amazing to know that Jay Z personally was the one who wanted to make this happen. [He's] someone I've idolized my whole life so it's still crazy to me.

Your most recent release was Another Day In Paradise, which was your foray back into the spotlight as a solo artist after having lots of success behind the scenes, ultimately leading up to your signing to Roc Nation. How did you feel about its reception? 
Working with everyone on that album was incredible. Honestly, it was just really dope getting to work with [Lil] Wayne. I wasn't actually in the studio with him, but just to know that he was on one of my records, that's like a dream as a young rap guy coming up like, "I gotta get Wayne one day," and I got that. I think the reception, like I said, I don't make music to try to be like, "Yo, this one is going to crossover for me." I make music that I know my fans are going to love, and in doing that, I know they're putting other people on to my s**t and that it's growing like that, and every year it gets a little bit bigger, and it doesn't have to get crazy. It just has to grow, and it's grown. That's exactly what the project did. When I dropped it, my fans loved it. They thought it was one of my best pieces of work ever. That's the most I could ask for. That's who I cater to.

Is there anything you feel like as an artist and songwriter that you haven't gotten that you deserve?
I'm humble man. Honestly, I can sit here and tell you what I expect. Just to even be able to do this--the most important thing for me is to be heard. To a lot of people, they want to be seen. I rather be heard. As long as people hear me, and I have that platform, and I have people's ears, what more can I ask for? I'm going to sit around and complain that someone has it better than me or people look at somebody in a different way that I feel like I should be looked at? What am I going to do? I'm going to make music for the people who love me for it. That's who I'm here for.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas State University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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Eminem performs on stage during the MTV EMAs 2017 held at The SSE Arena, Wembley on November 12, 2017 in London, England.
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Why Would Sada Baby Not Rank Eminem In His Top Five From Detroit?

Eminem is the most prolific and successful rapper of all time. His stats can’t be faded. When it’s all said and done, we’ll be retiring his number in every stadium he’s ever sold out.

With over 100 million records sold worldwide, an Oscar for Best Original Song, 10 No. 1 albums, more than 1 billion streams on Spotify, two top 100, all-time best selling albums, Marshall Bruce Mathers III is the highest selling rapper of all time. His top five status should be firmly cemented.

The respect for Em also extends to the greatest names in hip-hop. In 2012, VIBE compiled a list of the top 40 compliments Eminem has been given from his peers with names stretching from Scarface to Redman to Jay-Z. In a 2008 interview with BBC, Nas says of Em, “He contributes so much lyrically and musically. He’s amazing.” In a 2010 conversation with Hot 97, Kanye West is on record as saying, “Nobody’s gonna be bigger than Eminem.”

So why does it seem like he isn’t getting the respect he deserves in his own city?

In a recent interview with Say Cheese TV, Detroit rapper Sada Baby – when asked if Eminem was a top five rapper – said, “Out of Detroit? Hell naw. You talking about my Detroit?” While the internet took that quote and decided their varying levels of agreement or anger, there was one thing Sada said that stood out.

“My Detroit.”

While that phrase may not mean anything to outsiders, that distinction means the world to Detroiters.

Detroit is a tale of two cities when it comes to rap. Many know iconic producer J Dilla and wordsmiths like eLZhi and Royce Da 5’9”, but the D has a long, legendary history of street rappers who have helped pave the way. That’s a legacy that younger artists such as Icewear Vezzo, Payroll Giovanni of Doughboyz Cashout, Tee Grizzley, and Sada Baby are pushing forward to this day. As a native Metro Detroiter, artist manager, and digital label manager for Soulspazm Records, Eric “Soko” Reynaert sees both sides as equally important. “The different circles carry a lot of importance in encompassing the variety we have to offer. It's all important equally because it's what makes Detroit hip-hop what it is. Detroit's been running the overseas market touring wise for years, Detroit street rap is making noise in the major label market, Danny Brown's a fucking star: it's all good for Detroit hip-hop as a whole.”

The blunt, straightforward approach of Detroit’s street rappers just doesn’t mesh well with Eminem’s style of storytelling and wordplay. Slim Shady’s knack for entendres, stuffing multisyllabic rhyme schemes inside of each bar and floating between different pockets is a dense, complex style that, in Sada Baby’s own admission, most people just don’t get. “Eminem will get to saying some shit [that’s] going over everybody’s head,” Sada shrugged. “I might be able to decipher some of that shit but that nigga’s shit going over everybody head”.

That’s Sada’s Detroit. Among his musical influences are the late, great Detroit street rappers Blade Icewood and Wipeout - both murdered over the beef between their respective crews, Street Lord'z and the Eastside Chedda Boyz. If you truly want to know what a Detroit native lives by, take a listen to the Eastside Chedda Boyz’s “Oh Boy” and Blade Icewood’s “Boy Would You.” The true anthems of the city, both songs deified by their infectious hooks, blunt and deliberate lyrics, and a simplistic yet highly effective message draped in the energy that Detroiters carry with them. They’re not trying to win you over with metaphors and similes, but rather connect to their audience with honesty and directness in their rhyming. Similar styles can be heard in other 313 legends like Big Herk, K Deezy, and even Trick Trick and his Goon Sqwad click that has been active on the city’s music scene since the mid-‘90s. These are the artists that dominated the streets and Detroit radio. Not J Dilla. Not Slum Village. Not Black Milk. Detroit’s lyrical rappers tout immense worldwide respect but have always been relegated to the background in Detroit’s hierarchy, only sniffing radio play by doing jingles for local disc jockeys.

“There’s a street side and a hip-hop side to the music scene in Detroit,” says battle rap pioneer and Detroit MC Marvwon, while explaining the differences amongst the city’s musical landscape. “The funny thing is [that] there’s no difference in level of talent. The only difference is the backdrops.”

Those backdrops are also socioeconomic in nature as Detroit is a city whose residents have been denied basic human necessities. And for the Motor City? There’s no better representation of the city than the music at the most fundamental, street level. As Marv continued to explain, “The division comes from perception. The street cats believe that there hasn’t been an accurate representation of Detroit in the music world.”

Those feelings are echoed throughout the scene. Detroit MC Seven The General traverses through both worlds in a manner that the city hasn’t seen since the late Big Proof (known as Eminem’s close friend, as a member of his group D12). As Seven explains, “When I was incarcerated, we felt that the street aspect of Detroit wasn’t being heard with Eminem. But when I came home in ‘03 and heard Rock Bottom, I realized it was there but it just wasn’t receiving the same attention nationally. It had been held back and secluded to the streets for so long that people felt Eminem didn’t like it or care. It caused a resentment and caused rappers to feel like he doesn’t listen to us so why should we listen to him. It made us ask, ‘Where on the list of Eminem‘s top five Detroit artists would any of us fit?’”

When taking in these factors, it’s easy to see why Eminem doesn’t translate well for Sada Baby. However, Eminem’s impact has transcended not only Detroit but the world. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Hopsin, Tyler The Creator, and Juice WRLD are amongst today’s generation of rappers that all list him as a major influence. For better or worse, Em is also a catalyst for today’s druggie rap scene. Street rappers have gone from rapping about selling drugs to today’s scene glorifying the use of Xanax and Percocet - something that Marshall pioneered on his early albums with songs like “Drug Ballad” and “Purple Pills.” And with the blockbuster film 8 Mile and its hit song “Lose Yourself,” Eminem helped take battle rap culture mainstream to unfamiliar audiences.

Thanks to Eminem, Detroit’s street rap and lyrical scenes have crossed over. Somewhere at the intersection of manager/A&R Hex Murda and Big Sean, the worlds collided. As Marv states, “Big Sean, Danny Brown, and anyone else from the city mostly talk about the same things: money, bitches, and bossing up.” For every J Dilla, we now have a Black Milk who can equally rap and produce between both worlds. Where there’s a Dex Osama, there’s a Guilty Simpson and Seven The General whose blunt and brash flows hit you in the chest as hard as their lyrical ability and wordplay.

And don’t get it twisted; Em definitely sees the work that Detroit’s street rappers are putting in. “I have a personal relationship with all of the rappers around him,” Seven says. “I feel he rocks with me and has love for me. If he could see a way for us to make bread together, I feel like he’d pull me in; but D12 is actively in the streets assisting artists. I’ve personally seen what Em does for Detroit like his partnerships with (Metro Detroit sneaker boutique) Burn Rubber and (locally-founded clothing company) Detroit vs Everybody.”

He may not be your flavor but there’s no denying the skill and impact that Em has had on the city of Detroit and the genre as a whole. If Eminem isn’t top five in Detroit, you’re doing it wrong.

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