Updated: Jan 17
Rising rap star Babytron
In Hip Hop there are constantly cities that seem to rise up at the perfect time to change the so-called status quo of the rap game. Chicago had its time, so did New York and Georgia/the South had its moment just to name a few of the more prominent examples. It's now 2021 and as much as hip hop fans around the world want to keep listening to the same drill beats, we can all see that New York drill`s hold over rap is coming to an end. So, as we do every couple of years, it's time to look for our new city on the rise and that city is none other than Michigan's Motor City, Detroit.
Detroit has a deep music history dating back to Motown Records and continuing to recent times with rappers such as Big Sean and Eminem and legendary producer J Dilla all continuing to keep Detroit somewhat relevant in the minds of music enthusiasts. However, this new generation of rappers is not trying to copy those that have paved the way for them. They are paving their own lane, and this originality is what is giving the new generation so much traction at the moment. So let's take a look at what exactly they are doing.
One of the main reasons for Lil Wayne`s takeover of the rap game in 2003 was because of his punchlines. Everyone loves a good punchline and Detroit rappers are currently making use of this philosophy. Many of the rising Detroit rappers have one thing in common, a punchline-heavy approach. For example, almost every bar that rapper Babytron spits is a punchline. Babytlon first got some buzz from Detroit's 2019 scam rap wave, whose most prominent member was Teejayx6. Since then, Babytron has only perfected his unorthodox style, combining witty punchlines, pop culture references, a laid-back delivery, and morally questionable bars about taking peoples Bank Identification Numbers and other such scams, into some of the best verses we have heard coming out of the region. Just take a look at the last 2 minutes of his collab video with popular producer Kenny Beats or check out his new tape Bin Reaper 2 to see what I mean. Babytron isn`t the only one to do this, however. Another example is rapper Sada Baby, known to mainstream audiences for his song Whole Lotta Choppas which blew up on TikTok, Sada is another example of a punchline heavy rapper from Detroit. While Sada will range from cooly rapping about love to screaming about shooting guns, both he and Babytron not only are punchline obsessed, but also weave in pop culture references about video games, anime, and basketball, among other things, seamlessly into their verses. This is a common theme throughout this new generation of Detroit rappers and it helps them to connect to audiences that are not necessarily familiar with the lifestyles they are rapping about, or in the case of scam rappers like Babytron, may not even know what he is saying (as I try to explain to my mother what a VPN is).
Viral Tik Tok rapper Sada Baby
Another component to this is their downright hilarious lines that will have you audibly laughing in your library. Just take for example Yn Jay and Louie Ray`s song simply titled Coochie which now has amassed 32 million views on YouTube. The name is funny enough but the lyrics in the song will at least put a smile on your face. Another song with non-stop jokes is Free Joe Exotic by BFB Da Packman. As I said before, this generation loves pop culture references and this one capitalizes on one of the most popular Netflix series of recent times, Tiger King. The title of the song is a reference to the main character of the show, Joe Exotic, who was arrested in 2018. Even if you haven't watched the show, check out this song for a good laugh. Some of my other favorites include recently locked up rapper Rio Da Yung OG`s song Legendary, which I believe will become a staple song for this generation of Detroit rap, and RMC Mike on Lil Yachty's song Run Down telling us that a girl has “been chasin' [him] for years, she got strong ankles.” These funny bars keep the audience entertained and for the younger generation of kids, teens, and young adults that lose focus way too quickly, this tactic is guaranteed to keep the audience engaged and coming back for the next hilarious line.
Recently incarcerated rapper Rio Da Yung OG
Both of these parts play a huge role in the reason why Detroit rap is surging and why it may just be the next face of hip hop. But beyond that, both of these things appeal to a younger generation in different ways. The punchlines are perfect for a generation that is “starved” for IG captions, giving them another place to look besides Drake's newest song. The hilarity of the music is perfect especially considering just a couple of years ago we saw Blueface, a rapper who wasn't even rapping on the beat, blow up because of his hilarious lines, which also made for some funny Instagram captions. Like we see in entertainment, just being funny can get you a long way. We have seen rappers like Vince Staples be funny in person, but being funny in your raps is something that is gaining appreciation from the masses. There is still so much more to this than just the lyrics, however. The production coming from Flint's very own Energy Beats, Danny G and other producers in the area just keep getting better and better. The music videos that are being put out are also entertaining and have amassed millions of views on YouTube. They seem to have the whole package. So will Detroit be the next face of hip hop? Only time will tell but I can say they have all the tools to do so, including the right approach to reach a new generation of rap fans.