Born in Santa Monica, Big Sean was moved to Detroit at just three months old and raised by his mother and grandmother. With co-signs from Kanye West and Jay Z, Sean is rising as one of Detroit's most recognized rappers. Dark Sky Paradise, dropping February 24, boasts collaborations with the likes of 'Ye, Drake, Chris Brown and girlfriend Ariana Grande. Sean's third album looks to be his biggest effort yet.
Watch an exclusive interview with Sean talking about his Detroit pride above, and click ahead for 10 more must-know rappers from the D.
Eminem lived in different cities throughout Missouri before settling in a Detroit suburb when he was 11, laying the groundwork for him to become the city's most famous musical export. As a teen, Em and friend/future D12 member Proof would hit up open-mic contests, which became the loose basis of Shady's Hollywood film debut, 8 Mile. His 1999 sophomore album, The Slim Shady LP, catapulted him to worldwide fame. He's since earned eight multi-platinum No. 1 albums, 15 GRAMMY Awards and even an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself."
While he's famous for his wacky personality—he's gotten in-depth with Fuse about his love of Carly Rae Jepsen, cat freckles and onstage fellatio—Danny Brown is one of rap's most acclaimed new talents. His 2013 album Old was widely beloved, making multiple "best of the year" lists and charting at No. 18 on the Billboard 200, after years of buzzy EPs and mixtapes.
After working with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul to Erykah Badu and Common, the late producer/rapper earned his title as one of the most influential artists in hip hop. J Dilla grew up on the east side of Detroit with a very musical family—his mom was once an opera singer, and his dad a jazz bassist. Dilla began producing in the mid-'90s and by 2001 was releasing his own solo material. When he died in 2006, there were multiple tribute tracks and concerts to honor his legacy, including a dedication in the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party.
Another classic MC born in Detroit, Xzibit moved to New Mexico when he was 10 and gained notoriety in the West Coast scene. He dropped hit records (including his two No. 1 rap albums Restless and Man vs. Machine) and big singles (like "X" and "What U See Is What U Get"), but he just might be best remembered as the host of MTV's Pimp My Ride.
The rapper/singer was raised in a Greater Apostolic Faith community in Detroit until moving to New York at age 16. Angel Haze's free 2012 EP Reservation earned critical acclaim with standout tracks like "Werkin' Girls" and "New York" making Pitchfork and NME's Best Songs of 2012 lists. Haze proved to be a fiery force to be reckoned with when she leaked her own debut album, Dirty Gold, in late 2013 when her label refused to release it quickly enough. The album, which boasts a collaboration with Sia, got a proper release shortly after.
Born and raised on Detroit's west side, Royce da 5'9" had been grinding since the late '90s but hit it big with his duo project alongside Eminem, Bad Meets Evil. Together in 2011 they nabbed the No. 1 album Hell: The Sequel and Top 5 hit "Lighters" featuring Bruno Mars. But don't downplay Royce's solo success: the MC has notched multiple hits on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and his latest album, 2011's Success Is Certain, hit No. 25 on the Billboard 200. He's also a member of rap supergroup Slaughterhouse, whose 2012 album Welcome to: Our House peaked at No. 2. Try finding a better-connected rapper.
Trick-Trick is a born-and-raised Detroit boy who first hit the rap scene as a member of the hip hop quintet Goon Sqwad in the '90s. He broke out on his own in the mid-2000s, earning a hit single with the 2005 anthem "Welcome 2 Detroit," a collaboration with Eminem. His debut album The People vs. hit the Top 40 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Born in Long Island, New York, Esham spent his school years in east Detroit while hanging out in New York with his grandmother in the summer. Releasing music as early as 1989, the rapper became known for what he called "acid rap," a style that featured him spitting dark lyrics about death, drugs and sex over rock-influenced production.
The 23-year-old Dej Loaf is one of the city's most promising up-and-coming MCs. Raised on Detroit's east side, Deja Trimble came up with her stage name by combining a shortened version of her first name with "loafers," based on her love of shoes growing up. She got a big co-sign as the newest rapper to appear on Eminem's "Detroit vs. Everybody" single alongside previously mentioned heavyweights Big Sean, Royce da 5'9", Danny Brown, Big Sean and Trick-Trick. Then she scored her own solo hit with "Try Me," a Top 10 rap hit.
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