Personally, I feel that the state of hip-hop has been uninspiring over the last few years. Maybe I was spoiled by the era I grew up in; Public Enemy, Gang Starr, MC Breed, One Be Lo, Esham, Scarface, Ras Kass, Dead Prez, Wu-Tang, O.C., Cormega, Nas, and Pac are the storytellers I admired. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good music being released, but there is also a lot of garbage being released. Now that any high schooler with a tattooed face can cheaply purchase a microphone, computer, and music software the game has changed. Add a Soundcloud page and voila, a generation of wannabe rappers and producers are born.
Luckily, I still know a few dark alleys where real hip-hop exists. Which brings us to Grammy-nominated Detroit producer Filthy Rockwell. Filthy is a multi-talented musical aficionado who has production credits ranging from Big Sean, Royce Da 5’9 and Kayne West.
Besides music, Filthy has single-handedly outfitted half of Detroit with his clothing line “Filthy Americans.” The line shot to fame by trademarking Detroit’s most popular slogan “WHATUPDOE” and plastering it across the chest of hundreds of T-shirts from Detroit’s east and west side.
Filthy has remained quietly inspired over the past few years, producing tracks for GT, Boldy James, and Milfie with success, but he wanted to do something different. He was looking to do something groundbreaking and timeless. Something to set his mark on the industry like he did when he co-produced Kayne West’s mega-hit “Mercy” in 2012.
“I’m moving into a new space that’s not about artists, I’m releasing music as an instrumentalist, the name of the new genre I’ve created is “Griot,” it’s storyline Hip-Hop, each instrumental album will only have ONE rapper and ONE verse, to sum up, the project.” Filthy stated.
Filthy’s inaugural release “Filthy America: Dreaming in Color the Beautiful Nightmare,” is a 20-minute masterpiece that will undoubtedly have a place in Detroit’s rich history. The album is sprinkled with random outbursts of politics, anarchy, soul, religion, and racism. It starts with a compelling video game inspired track titled “We The People” that sounds like you just conquered the world, and it ends with an ideally placed hilarious sample that is sure to have you cracking up.
Staying true to Filthy’s vision, the only rapper on the album is Courtney Bell, an artist from Detroit that you need to hear if you haven’t already. This particular track titled “Behold a Pale Horse” pays homage to the iconic author and radio broadcaster William Cooper, who was murdered by the government in 2001. Bell’s unique voice is commanding and inspiring, and more importantly, he’s using his platform to preach much more than money, clothes, and hoes.
Another noteworthy track is “Free Your Mind” featuring Detroit singer Taylor Dior, who has a standout voice that seems to integrate perfectly throughout the song. Her lyrics still speak to me way after the song is over, and she intertwines superbly with Filthy’s vision. “Free your mind let it go; life’s a journey we all hitchhiking on the road, trying to find a way out before we go, searching on the road to nowhere, searching on the road to nowhere, searching on the road to nowhere.”
Filthy’s long-awaited album is nothing short of a classic, and trust me when I say CLASSIC; I don’t slap that label on just anything. According to Filthy himself, ” Filthy America: Dreaming in Color the Beautiful Nightmare” is part one of a 3-part series. All three concept albums will tell the story of Detroit, the blackest city in America.
Filthy America will be released nationwide on all digital platforms on August 31; you can also pick up physical copies of vinyl and CDs at fithyamericans.com.