When you think of Detroit, people normally tie the city to the iconic Motown Records and from a Hip Hop perspective, Eminem. The rapper from 8 Mile Road became a global star, becoming the second highest-selling artist ever and is considered by many as one of the greatest rappers of all time. It would make sense that Detroit natives would look up to the legend, but when it comes down to the hoods in the D that chronicle the streets, they’re not rocking with Slim Shady despite the impressive numbers he’s still putting up on the board.
During a conversation with HipHopDX, Icewear Vezzo, one of the leaders of contemporary Detroit rap, says the iconic rapper doesn’t have a connection to the hood like he once had in the past. Instead, the current crop of Motor City rappers connects more to the underground rap scene than most people think.
“People like me and other rappers like Tee Grizzley, Peezy, Babyface Ray and Snap Dogg grew up on Chedda Boyz, Street Lord’z, Blade Icewood, Rock Bottom, the Lost Boys, the real underground gangster rappers in Detroit. If it wasn’t for them, I literally wouldn’t be rapping,” he tells HipHopDX. “Those guys were rapping about shit, and you were able to see them in the hood passing money out, or giving back.”
Vezzo says on any day you would see these rappers amongst the community and helping out kids that needed role models in their lives. What these artists rapped about was what people like Vezzo saw whenever they were in town and to them, that meant the world.
“We’d see them in our hood pulling up in cars they actually rapped about, being at clubs that they were actually at, wearing jewelry that we actually saw. Like, for us it was like Eminem was out of touch, so he wasn’t anybody we could actually relate to.”
According to Vezzo when asked if the hood still bumps Eminem, the Robbin Season rapper says you’d be lucky if hear even one Eminem song playing.
“I can honestly speak for other rappers like Tee Grizzley, Peezy, Babyface Ray, Snap Dogg and they would all say the exact same thing,” The Drankgod says confidently but without a hint of disrespect.
“We were never in touch with Eminem,” he explains. “In the hood, in our ghettos and shit, back when he first came out yeah, [Eminem] was like a hero for us,” he explains. “So we expected to see him, to be able to touch him, and we’re like ‘yeah we got somebody that got out from Detroit. This about to go down, he opened the gates up.’ But it didn’t go that way.”
Vezzo makes it clear he’s not saying Eminem doesn’t do anything for the city or the hood. He praises Em and his philanthropic efforts through the Marshall Mathers Foundation while also acknowledging Slim Shady for being an example of someone who takes care of their responsibilities. He just says the hood wanted Eminem to be more available.
“We always wanted Em to play the position that Royce Da 5’9″ played but he doesn’t, so he’s not a hero for us no more,” Vezzo admits. “Royce Da 5’9″ is like the president of the Marshall Mathers Foundation, and he’s from the hood. You’re able to see him, he going to come out. He fucked with niggas and he reached out, he checked on us, he’d pull up to the studio, he’d pull up to the club. We can call and he pulling right up. Royce the real OG man.”
Despite feeling Em isn’t a hero to the streets anymore, Icewear Vezzo says the Detroit legend doesn’t owe them anything. It’s well-documented how the streets treated Eminem before he blew up, and like many rappers who’ve gotten the short end of the stick in their lives, making it out is the number one goal.
As far as Vezzo is concerned, that mission was accomplished in full.
“The whole point is to make it out of these streets, and he did just that,” Vezzo continues. “He doesn’t owe anybody anything. He did what he was supposed to do, which was just taking care of his daughter. He took care of his responsibilities. He was addicted to drugs, he rapped about it and he told us about his life. He got through that shit and he came out clean. He still lives in Detroit at the end of the day too. So he did exactly what he was supposed to do and we have to admire that.”
Check back with HipHopDX for the full interview with Icewear Vezzo coming soon. In the meantime, you can follow him on his Instagram page @icewear_vezzo as he readies his Robbin Season 2 for a July 17 release.