If you want to understand Hiphop’s roots see the Bronx late 60s and early 70s; if you want to understand it now go to Detroit. Yes ‘the Motor City’ once heralded as the Mecca of the U.S auto industry and forever etched in the world’s memory as the home of Berry Gordy’s Motown. Where once a thriving economy lived and downtown boasted of a booming auto manufacturing section is now home to boarded up buildings, vacant lots, closed plants, and the dubious distinction of having no grocery stores within city limits.
Yet despite this harsh reality, made evident by abandoned buildings, there is not abandoned hope. Invincible’s work and album Shapeshifters continues in the legacy Hiphop established over 30 years ago. Produced on her own label Emergence, Shapeshifters is a fluid combination of creative beats lyrical skill and a show case of some of Detroit’s finest on the mic.
Sledgehammer, the 3rd track begins with a heavy bass line and some eerie horns before Invincible blesses the listener with lyrics that go hard as any Joe Lewis blow. People not Places examines the Palestine/ Israel conflict through the eyes of a returning Israeli who questions illegal displacement. And who could forget the ANOMOLIES crew who drops in for a guest appearance on Ransom Note. As quality as these tracks are and I’m saying they are, they pale in comparision to Shapeshifters, Recognize and Locusts which features an assist from Finale. Locusts is a scathing sociological analysis of the state of Detroit in a way that only Hiphop could do it. Weaving back and forth over a sparse but effective beat, Finale and Invincible take us on a tour of the city as they offer commentary on the effects of gentrification. The documentary styled music video provides insight into some of the issues effecting choices that negatively impact working class and communities of color.