Last week came the troubling news that one of America's most iconic cities, Detroit, has become the largest city in the country's history to go bankrupt. The Motor City, despite these financial hardships, has always been rich in arts and culture, especially its musical output. As a tribute to the D, we've assembled a list of five examples of the city's finest output as a reminder that one of the Midwest's toughest locations will prevail.
KISS, “Detroit Rock City,” 1976
One of the best songs written about any American city, KISS' “Detroit Rock City” captures the vibrant energy of the Motor City's nightlife. While KISS themselves were known for their signature visual elements, the images of Detroit in popular media and in person have left countless hundreds with distinct visuals, compliments of the city.
Bob Seger, “Makin Thunderbirds,” 1982
One of Michigan's favorite sons, Bob Seger, has always found inspiration in his home turf, making the “Mitten State” proud. In one of the first music videos to get regular rotation on MTV and early music-video outlets such as Goodnight L.A., Seger's “Makin Thunderbirds” captured the essence of Detroit's fine automobile-assembly culture.
Esham, "Envy the Sunshine,” 2001
Detroit has been through some dark times, so dark they of course lead to the birth of acid-rap pioneer Esham the Unholy. Going back to his early releases in the late '80s and early '90s such as Boomin' Words From Hell, his subject matter and ominous productions have always veered toward the darker side. But even in Detroit's darkest hour, there's a certain comfort in knowing Esham could rise from darkness to record a song such as "Envy the Sunshine” from 2001's Tongues LP.
Danny Brown, "Guitar Solo,” 2010
Detroit's most recent breakout star has been indie "it” rapper Danny Brown. A man whose perspective and rhyme style is the product of a turbulent Motor City upbringing, he has felt the city's pain. On the track "Guitar Solo,” produced by fellow Detroit native Quelle Chris, Brown plays the omniscient narrator, detailing the drama he regularly sees.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., "We Almost Lost Detroit,” 2012
Finally, get a look at some of the strongest people in America in Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s "We Almost Lost Detroit.” As inspirational as the song it illustrates, the video further emphasizes how resilient the people of Detroit truly are. We at the Weekly are confident the city can come back from its current issues and return to its place among the gems of the Midwest.