It’s not the birthplace of hip hop, but Detroit has certainly created its own unique hip hop style since the genre landed in the city in the 1980s. Hip hop’s first wave in Detroit came from the break-dancing style that became synonymous with the genre, before Detroit’s first emcees started to pop up.

The city’s hip hop roots really started to take shape in the 90s as the Hip Hop Shop hosted open mic nights featuring early Detroit rap stars Eminem and his D12 associate, the late Proof, as well as others. Today, Detroit has found its own sound within hip hop. Driving drumbeats and low, brooding piano chords have become the building blocks for Detroit’s unique style, and its influence can be heard across the city and nation.  


In celebration of hip hop’s 50th anniversary this year, One Detroit contributor Bryce Huffman takes a deep dive into the history of Detroit hip hop and how it’s still evolving today. He talks with Detroit hip hop artist and We Found Hip Hop Co-founder Piper Carter about the genre’s early inspiration in Detroit and its confluence with the rise of Detroit techno.  

Metro Detroit producer Travis Pittman, who uses the hip hop moniker 4amjuno, works on a song with Detroit rapper Lelo in a studio in Oak Park, Michigan. | Photo by One Detroit

Plus, Huffman hears from metro Detroit producer Travis Pittman, who goes by 4amjuno, and Detroit rapper Lelo, whose real name is Khalil Jewell, about how the next generation of Detroit hip hop is rising to new heights nationwide.  

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