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Pepsi Refresh Projects in Michigan

10.06.10 | technician | In upper peninsula, homeless, charity

Pepsi is giving away $1,300,000 each month to fund great ideas.

Several Michigan projects have a chance at winning prize money. Never mind where the money is coming from as it’s not coming from Michigan.

The Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center is currently in 12th place to get $250k. Only the top 2 will get funded. Funding would support ongoing research, generate a list of new therapies to improve quality of life, and empower patients through advocacy, education, treatment and research. This would not only be good for Michigan but for anyone in the country since anybody could potentially get a brain tumor and benefit from any medical research.

Copper Harbor, MI is hoping to use $250k to build an ambulance garage. They are in 11th place.

The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division is in 30th place to receive $250k

Southeastern Michigan Veterans Stand Down, Inc. is in 92nd place to receive $25k

Coats for Kids/Grace Lutheran Church of East Tawas, Michigan is in 7th place for $5k.

Sara LeBourdais was already awarded $5k to save animals in Midland, MI
Monroe Center Cancer Connection was awarded $5k for free transportation to cancer patients in Monroe, MI.
Golightly Educational Center was awarded $5k to take inner city students to an educational, 3-day science camp from Detroit.
The Detroit Area Diaper Bank also received $5k.

Voting for this round ends on October 31st. You can find more Michigan-based projects at http://www.refresheverything.com/search/?q=michigan

Exclusive, unreleased Big Proof interview, by me

10.02.10 | Emblog | In hip hop, detroit of



Four years ago, I’ve been granted the chance to interview Big Proof.
This interview has never ever been published…it has been done through Rude of IF just a few months before Big Proof died…Attention, please! This is from January 2006. Love you, Big Proof:)))



Proof interview Q & A’s



Deshaun Holton aka Proof aka Derty Harry, thanks for accepting this interview.


1. Many people know you as the D12 member, but less people know you as a solo artist. Is that the main reason that motivated you to create Iron First?


Yeah, it seems that the people forget the origin of D-12. All solo artist an who ever gets on comes back for the rest


2. What is the main difference between the D12 artist and the solo artist you actually are?


Basically too different perspective to speak from..


3. In your Searching For Jerry Garcia album -tight album, by the way- suicide seems to be a recurrent theme…can you tell us a little bit more about your fascination with suicide and about « Club ‘27 »?


It’s a metaphor, the death of Derty Harry, a cocoon state, its a new beginning… Club 27 is some spooky shit to me, a lot of incredible artists…


4. Besides your love for your hometown that is present in your Cds and mixtapes, what or who is your main source of inspiration?</span>


Man life is the greatest inspiration, hands down.


5. D12 and Proof fans are familiar with your E.S.H.A.M track and have followed your beef with local rapper Esham. On your Grown Man Shit mixtape, you apologize to him. I have heard that both of you have reconciled in Detroit at your birthday party. Do you have some collaborations with Esham included in your future projects?


Yeah, me and Esham gonna do some work very soon.


6. I Miss The Hip Hop Shop that beautiful mixtape of yours recalls the days of the Hip Hop shop in Detroit. Back in the days, what do you miss most about the early stages of Detroit hip hop?


Wow! That’s an ill question … I miss the innocence, the vibe and the adventure.


7. What is the most difficult challenge you had to face in your whole career?

Separating the streets from the industry….



8. Besides D12, you have many collaborations with local artists at your active. Which Detroit artist (s) has (have) recently attracted your attention because of his (their) talent ?


Supa Mc, Woofpac, an J Hill. They all are very talented, an ,of course, Purple Gang.


 Who are you keen on collaborating (whether on the local scene or on a national scale) with in a near future?


Mike from Alien Ant Farm, he’s a cool cat.


10. What kind of projects will you be working on after « Searching For Jerry Garcia »?


Hand to hand mix cd due out march 7th … P.G. album, Woofpac, Supa M.C. then Club 27, we just started on the 3rd D-12 album …. so be on the look out we coming full steam ahead.


Copyright©2006 by Isabelle Esling

All Rights Reserved

A View of Detroit by Race

09.25.10 | technician | In hamtramck, mexicantown, ethnic neighborhood, race

Race and ethnicity: Detroit

What you’re looking at is a bunch of little dots which together form a pretty accurate outline of the city of Detroit. You can see Woodward going straight out NW, the railroad going due north. But this isn’t because of lines drawn on a map. The colored dots represent race.

There is a clear blue/red division on 8 Mile which separates blacks in Detroit proper from whites in Oakland County just a few steps north. Each dot represents 25 people of a given race. The orange area in southwest Detroit is Mexicantown. Hamtramck is shown as a melting pot, whereas Highland Park, the other nearby enclave is completely undiscernable.

This can’t be healthy for a region, can it? On the other hand, the city of Chicago has fairly extreme divisions by neighborhood and street as well as between city and certain neighboring suburbs.

Chicago race map

And the original Detroit race map is on flickr.

ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7

09.22.10 | technician | In crime, coney, television

Well, the first episode of ABC’s new series “Detroit 1-8-7″ about fictional police in Detroit has aired. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. It’s not the first tv series set in Detroit. The long-running “Home Improvement” was set in Oakland County (Royal Oak). “Martin” which lasted a few years was also set in Detroit. In fact, you can see a long list of shows, some which didn’t last very long, on Wikipedia, including “Blade”, “Pawn Stars”, “Hung”, and others. They don’t always portray Detroit in the best light.

I don’t have the higest opinion of the show so far but anyways, let the audience make up their own minds, right? View the pilot on ABC

Detroit Lives: An Urban Exploration with Johnny Knoxville

09.19.10 | technician | In film
Detroit’s usually portrayed as a crime-ridden city blighted by urban decay and corruption. That’s true. But it’s not the whole story, not by a long shot. Detroit Lives shows the Motor City as it is: a diamond amidst the rough.

Thanks Jalopnik.

Palladium presents “Detroit Lives: An Urban Exploration with Johnny Knoxville”. Part 1 of 3.

Also want to give a shout out to the Detroit Lives! blog (no relation).

i3Detroit: Another Detroit hackerspace

09.19.10 | technician | In ann arbor, ferndale, eastern market, hackerspace

i3Detroit is “a collaborative environment for people to explore the balance between technology, art and culture” in Ferndale. Aka a hackerspace, “community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects.”

Hackerspaces have been springing up around the country and the world. While there are computer “hackers” (writing software, not breaking into Pentagon computers) there are also a lot of hardware hackers, people who build both virtual and physical stuff. These places are like collectivist garages where anyone can afford to try out a new idea using shared tools and get help and feedback from like-minded individuals. And now there are officially three such hackerspaces in and around Detroit.

In Detroit proper, Eastern Market specifically, we have OmniCorp Detroit, a collaborative effort co-founded by the one and only Bethany Shorb.

And in Ann Arbor there is All Hands Active.

You can chat up the i3Detroit guys in real-time at their web irc page or join #i3detroit on Freenode.

Kyle Hall

09.19.10 | technician | In techno

For a city that has historically produced so much stunning, globally endorsed music—post-WWII blues, gospel, Motown, radical space jazz; The Stooges, The MC5, and late-’90s garage rock; experimental hip-hop and electronic dance music so revered that it’s simply called “Detroit” everywhere else—it can be one static and lonely place. There are no adoring fans, no lucrative residencies, scant local media attention.

This quote from an article in XLR8R magazine about Anthony “Shake” Shakir inspired me to write the first words I’ve written in a minute over here. Because it’s true — Detroiters can be the most ignorant about Detroit music in all genres in recent memory. And the media is partly to blame.

So I want anyone who’s listening to check out Kyle Hall (MySpace) who’s putting out some of the freshest electronic dance music you haven’t heard yet.

This is the kind of sound the rest of the world will be hearing for years to come. Detroit techno is not history.

Proof/Time A Tell/ album review

08.26.10 | Emblog | In hip hop, 7 mile, detroit of

Global rating of the product:4.5 stars

Deshaun Holton aka Big Proof wrote Time A Tell, a whole hip hop album, within 24 hours, just a few months before being savagely murdered at the CCC club in Detroit. Despite fame and his huge popularity in Detroit City and all over the world, Proof know how to keep down to earth.With his simplicity and his full dedication to hip hop, his hard work, Proof has become the mere symbol of artistic integrity. With this very complete piece of work, Proof hasn’t left his auditors orphans: he is sharing his wonderful musical genius with his hometown and the rest of the world.

Each time I am tempted to give up on my passion, I look up to Proof. Then I know I have to keep doing my thing with the same flame, because we have to invest in our God-given gifts and allow the world to enjoy them as well.

Time A Tell is rich of many musical collaborations. We need to underline the participation of some skilled Detroit talents like Killa Kaunn, First Borne, Supa Emcee of Iron Fist, J-Hill, Mudd and Thyme of 5 ELA, Moe Dirdee and TY Farris, just to name a few.

The album is rhythmic, inventive with its numerous musical compositions, rich of astute punchlines. Proof’s raspy voice stands out in the whole album. The Detroit legend is giving you some insight about the Detroit scene.

After a theatrical intro, you will be introduced into a touchy subject, Friends Ain’t Really Friends. The musical background has a rhythmic jazzy-soul touch. The listener will be reminded of Tupac and Biggie’s stories. Fakeness gets exposed in a genuine Proof lyrical rapping style. Thumbs up!

You Heard Of Us featuring Killa Kaunn and First Born is a swinging, offensive track in which the emcees’ skills are fully enlightened. The track gets grimy andd murderous. Enjoy the Detroit style!

Whole New Beginning features the brilliant Supa Emcee. The song is quite nostalgic. Words do matter in this one too.

Priceless combines trumpet and siren background sounds. Feel the dangerosity of hood life. I love the icy cold steel spirit put into his song.

I Think Of You is built on a soft musical background. There, Proof really excels in verbal fluency.

Most of you aready know Sincerly Proof, a track that had been leaked on the internet a short time after Proof passed away.

Pill Pop is written in a sarcastic style. I love the lyrics, Proof’s sense of humor.

Among the songs I really liked, I recommend you the Time A Tell track.It is beautifully made and reeinforces the Detroit emcee’s know how. That’s how they do it…and they are really good at it!You go, Purple Gang.

You like it lyrical? Go listen to Verbal Spar where you will enjoy Woof Pac’s verbal storm.

Nearly 4 years have gone by since Proof passed away. But his music is pretty much alive. Time will tell you about Proof’s legacy. The emcee is one of hip hop’s most valuable jewels.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling

All Right Reserved

Exclusive DJ Butter interview!

07.24.09 | Emblog | In hip hop, 7 mile, detroit of

Dear readers,
Today I am more than pleased to announce that a big name on the Detroit scene kindly accepted my interview. This excellent artist happens to be Barry Yett aka DJ Butter who is notorious for his numerous mixtapes and collaborations on the local scene. DJ Butter used to hang out with Eminem, Bizarre, Mr Porter and Proof back in the golden days of the Hip Hop Shop. Very dedicated to his hometown, DJ Butter is currently working on an important movie, the 7 Mile movie that depicts the Detroit scene as it is. Wanna know more? Listen to DJ Butter’s words!

1.DJ Butter, you are notorious on the Detroit scene and well known for your numerous mixtapes that include a lot of local collaborations. How did you get started in the hip hop business?

- I was making mixtapes in High School selling them to my friends. My cousin, Shon used to got to New York and bring me back mixtapes in the late 80’s. My late friend, Patrick got me started as a DJ for his group, Sudden Strength.

2. What is the story behind your nickname?

- I have a light skinned skin color and I thought DJ Butter was marketable.

3. Can you define yourself as an artist within a few words?

- Multi-Talented. I can do all the elements in Hip-Hop.

4. You were a personal friend to Marshall Mathers aka Eminem. How did you meet the talented artist?

-I used to see him at the Hip-Hop shop in the early 90’s all the time. We got to know each other closely by going to the How Can I Be Down? music summit in the late 90’s. It was me, Proof, Mark Hicks, Bizarre, Eminem and Paul Rosenberg all together trying to get seen and heard out in Miami. I used to see Eminem all the time, in the streets selling his cds, while I sold my mixtapes. I was one of the first dudes to put him on mixtapes and featured him in my magazine, FUNKFRESHINTHAFLESH

5. You were also befriended with Deshaun Holton aka Proof whose life was cut short in April 2006. It is really a great loss for the hip hop community as far as I am concerned. To what extent did his death affect you and the whole Detroit scene?

- Proof was the voice of our Hip-Hop culture here. We had our ups and downs, but I was glad to talk to him before his death.

6. Who have you collaborated with on the local scene?

- I worked with almost everyone into the Rap Scene here. Except Kid Rock. That’s my next goal. I recently just got from a month long tour with, Esham. He’s the main reason for Detroit’s Rap Scene.

7. What is your best memory in Detroit?

- The Hip-Hop Shop and the unity we had a St. Andrews before the radio station fucked it up. The days before our major deaths of our rap stars.

8. Besides the Detroit scene, which artists have you collaborated with already?

- I’ve worked with Reggae legend, Junior Reid, Dipset, Yukmouth and I threw a huge party with the legendary, E-40.

9. A few words about your upcoming 7 Mile movie?

- My film, 7 Mile is the before and after of Eminem’s 8 Mile film. I’m just giving the fans a documentary version by covering the Motown Era until our music scene in 2009. I’m just showing the world, why Detroit is the mecca of music and reminding folks that Michael Jackson made his first checks here and that J Dillla gave people like Kanye West and Pharell their swag and all the footage is from my cameras.

10. You are the CEO of Crazy Noise Productions. Can you tell us a little bit about your company?

- I started my label at the age of 15 and released 5 albums under my label.

11. What are your current/ upcoming musical projects for 2009/2010?

- I’m working on some original music with Slum Village’s DJ, Dez and getting set to drop a mix-tape with Proof’s former producer, Essman.

12. Which artist(s) earned your respect on the local scene and why?

- I got love for Black Milk and it’s real cool to see Royce Da 5′9 re- invent himself. I respect all the guys here.

13. What is the biggest challenge you faced as an artist?

- When Eminem and D12 went against me. I just never under stood how I can break bread with those guys before the big label deals and they couldn’t break bread back. They made me out to be the bad guy. I was supporting Denaun Porter’s music before he was making any rap money from Shady Records or any other platinum artists he deals with today. I paid those dudes to do songs for my label and they gave the tracks to Em’s label. Last time I talk to him, he said he was gonna be a better DJ than me. I was there from the earlier days, when Eminem wasn’t returning there calls. I always wanted the best for the Shady family and it’s always been some bullshit politics. I have a conversation with Denaun on the phone, that will wake a lot of people up and I just didn’t leak it. It’s a G-Unit radio on Shade 45 and not D-12 radio and that’s my point. But, I understood why Eminem waved a walked away on the 8 mile movie.

14. What is your personal outlook on the Detroit scene?

- Our Music scene is the shit. We just gotta stop killing each other and going against one another. It’s crazy to see the world have that much love for J Dilla and Proof after they died. Those two struggled so much to display their talent and it seemed they all died with financial problems, even Mc Breed. To have rich business partners and to die broke is not my destiny.

15. According to you, what makes you appear as a unique artist on the Detroit scene?

- I really care about our rap scene. I’ve been documenting the rappers here for more than 15 years. I’m not the DJ that you can email a song too and I scream over it and say, I’m the best DJ in Michigan. I got the master tapes to prove it. The DJ’s on the radio here don’t give a fuck about the artists. We too busy trying to make Gucci Mane more richer.

Stay tuned! www.7milemovie.com

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

Exclusive interview with Detroit underground emcee Big A!

07.09.09 | Emblog | In hip hop, detroit of

Who is Big A? Big A is a Detroit underground emcee of Lebanese origins. Deeply rooted into Detroit City, the emcee stays true to his Lebanese heritage. Listen to his say!

Big A interview questions

1.What motivated you most to get involved into the rap business?

-I’ve been listening to rap music ever since I was 3 or 4 years old. I loved walking to the record store in South Lebanon an hour away to buy rap tapes. The feeling I got while listening to this music was a mix of entertainment, empowerment and inspiration. It really touched the deepest parts of my soul. I travelled to the United States at age 18 and didn’t start rapping until 3 years after that. The pure business aspect is necessary for an artist cause when you dedicate more time for the music by quitting your day job if possible for example, you will be able to paint a better picture with your music.

2.What is the story behind your nickname?

-My real name is Ahmad and after growing up listening to a lot of Big L and Big Pun, I decided to be the next “Big” rapper and now you have me: Big A.

3.From what I understand you’ re of Lebanese origins. To what extend is your music bridging your country of origins with the Detroit style?

-I love that you said -Detroit Style- cause Detroit got so much style and so many international music pioneers. The bridging of styles and cultures is all over my music. A local Hip hop producer: Zhao-Ski (who’s my music mentor in a lot of ways) played a huge role in initiating my recording career and he introduced my 1st album Conscious Gangsta to the music scene in the summer of ‘08. One way to really answer this question is by watching the music video of the song Same Struggle which showed how the 2006 Lebanese war can be put in the same video with the struggles of Detroit city.

4. What is your opinion about fellow Detroit Lebanese rapper Merciless Amir? Do you like his style?

-Wow I really respect that you know Detroit’s history like that. I’m really still learning myself and it’s amazing when you look at the influence that such artists like Merciless Amir had on our favorite rappers in Detroit. This made me make a phone call to my homie Mudd from 5 ELA and the conversation extended to almost 2 hours. He told me to look up the song “A Day Without A Rhyme” by Merciless Amir and was showing me how he was like the Rakim of Detroit! Thanks for this question yo! And also as far as Lebanon’s contributions to Hip hop, my homie DJ Lethal Skillz from Lebanon has been holding it down for quite a while and the Hip hop scene there is growing with artists that have amazing talents like MC Moe, Malikah, RGB and so many other rappers, producers and so on.

5.What is your opinion about the local Detroit hip hop scene?

-I love the Detroit Hip hop scene and I’m proud to be a humble representer of it. Last night I went to my favorite spot called 5 Elements Gallery. This spot is starting a movement thanks to DJ Sicari (the owner) who is one third of the crew 5 ELA. Piper Carter was hosting a weekly event called Foundation and it’s about bringing it back to the roots of Hip hop culture. At any moment you’ll see music heavy hitters come through like Finale, Invincible, 5 ELA, Dj Head (Eminem’s 1st Producer), Jessica Care Moore, Monica Blaire, Dwele, USM crew, Slum Village, T3, Elzhi, DJ Dez, One Be lo, Nick Speed, AML crew…. The point I want to make is: The atmosphere is amazing and the theme can vary from Break Dance lessons to Graffiti art to the vital role of Women in Hip Hop and so on. It’s just amazing to me to see positive things and positive people in the middle of going through an economic crisis. I have a big front-bumper sticker on my truck that reads: I LOVE DETROIT. “what more can I say?”

6.According to you, is it an advantage to be Detroit rooted?

-It’s a huge honor and something to be proud of to be Detroit rooted. I’m building with different groups of the community and we all love Hip hop. J Dilla, Aretha Franklin, Steve Wonder, Awesome Dre & The Hardcore Committee: They all from Detroit. There’s a lot of credit to be given and that’s a whole interview by itself but for example a lot of people don’t know Detroit is where Techno music was originated.

7.What is the most difficult challenge you had to face since you started rapping?

-Being in the States in 2006 while my family and friends were in Lebanon during the July war.

8.Which local Detroit artists have you collaborated with already?

-Zhao-Ski, Fes Roc, Miz Korona, Technique De Elite, Illite, Finale, Asylum 7, Aztec, Lab Techs, Sleepy Biggs, J Borro, Joe Nehme and some more other cats…

9.How would you define yourself as an artist?

-I spit that real grimy gangsta rap combined with the humility of being God’s servant. I reach out to everybody and I love making songs with different artists from all around the world. I’m just here to learn and I’m down with creating a new revolution based on respect and honesty while taking over the world.

10.According to you, what makes you appear as unique on the Detroit scene?

-The way I represent Lebanon to the fullest and stay true to my Arab Heritage and our Palestinian cause.

11.Who is your biggest influence on the local scene and why?

-Of course I’m very influenced by all Detroit artists but Zhao-Ski has been consistently my mentor through all this journey. We’ve developed an amazing stage show together and he’s been bringing a lot of knowledge and wisdom to the table.

12.Could you summarize your work since you started rapping within a few lines, especially for the readers who don’t know you well?

-I’ve shared the stage with the best local and international performers. The musical collaborations have been non-stop. Most importantly,my album “CONSCIOUS GANGSTA” speaks for itself. Please check me out @ WWW.MCBIGA.COM

13.What are your current musical projects?

-There will be surprise joint projects coming soon with a couple artists I look up to. And I’m also working on new Big A solo material. If any beat-makers want to provide beats, my email is [email protected] and you can go to facebook.com/mcbiga

14.Which Detroit artist(s) (you haven’t collaborated with yet) would you envision a collaboration with?

-5 ELA, Invincible, One Be Lo, Black Milk, and Elzhi to name a few…
Thank you for the interview.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

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