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Five Detroit artists to watch out for

Meet the future of music right now.

Duane the Jet Black Eel: A slick sound fusion 

On stage he’s known as Duane the Jet Black Eel, but don’t get used to it; he freshens his signature with different musical genres. Duane Gholston, 24, is now playing 70s classic and garage rock, with hints of country.

In the past, he’s played under other stage names such – The Teenage Weirdo, an ode to lo-fi 80s music, and The Brand New Dog, rooted in 90s techno. Now, this young queer man of color is tailoring his sound to address the current political climate.

“The new look is all part of a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek joke mocking ideologies on the left and right side of the political spectrum,” he writes in his bio.

He grounded his latest identity with his new music video called, “When the Eel Accepts Your Invitation,” which can be seen on YouTube. “The video is traditional American culture,” Gholston tells BLAC. “It’s overly patriotic and I was poking fun of that. It’s a statement to lying nationalism.”

Gholston jokes about “yearning for the good ol’ days,” saying that the “Make America Great Again” slogan is reversing the culture of millennials.

“Everyone is just trying to get a laugh out of what’s going on,” he says. 

-Iman Saleh

Stephanie J Pride: The new testament 

Detroit has molded some of the best names in gospel, from the Winans family to the Clark Sisters. Stephanie J. Pride is hoping to be next in taking songs of inspiration to a bigger stage.

Stephanie J Pride started her singing journey at the age of 12 in the choir at her father’s church with her siblings. “We had no options. It was like, you’re in the choir, you’re the usher, and you’re going to play the drums.” Stephanie laughs about early years in the church.

With a whole lot of testimony and a song to match her truth, the Detroit School of Arts grad’s passion bleeds through every song. But beyond her singing career, Pride is a mother, businesswoman and spiritual leader. When she came home from college, she became the full-time praise and worship leader at her father’s church and recorded her first song.

Describing her music as “hopeful and inspiring” Stephanie uses real-life testimonies with heartbreak, death, healing, and success to motivate others to form a relationship with God and overcome obstacles.

While writing Stephanie finds influence from Erica Campbell, Brandy, and Beyonce. Last year, Pride released her first album Meet Us Here, which includes the singles “Meet Us Here” and “See You Again”. “I was able to put my feelings about losing my dad in this project.” Stephanie shares about how this project was a healing process for her. “See You Again” has even been able to open up doors with hospitals and within counseling in areas of grief.  Stephanie is using this year to reach more people through promotion in the states and internationally. “Everybody has a voice and it deserves to be heard.” 

-Lynzee Mychael

Tee Grizzley: Hitting the ground running 

Talk about ebbs and flows: three years in prison, and two million views in less than three

weeks. After completing a bid for robbing a jewelry store, Tee Grizzley immediately dropped “First Day Out,” a defiant middle finger to haters who thought he was down and out.

The music video had piled a million views within a week, and things moved quickly after that: giving his first professional performance in a show with bubbling Atlanta trap rapper 21 Savage, rubbing shoulders with stars like T.I. and Chris Brown, and later signing a record deal with 300 Entertainment (home of acts like Fetty Wap, Young Thug and Dae Dae).

Hours before press time for this story, the former Michigan State student was announced as a performer on “Issa Tour” with 21 Savage, Young M.A. and Young Nudy. But there's more to Tee than meets the eye: he has tweeted that he wants to pay back the people he robbed for survival, and he has turned down collabs with several popular artists in an attempt to tell his story on his own terms. With a hit single, a tour, and a new record deal, it appears that he’ll have plenty of opportunity to do just that. 

-William E. Ketchum III

King Visionary: A futuristic approach to hip-hop 

King Visionary has taken hip-hop and made it his own. Taking a serious approach on his music at the age of 17, King Visionary has taken the last 8 years to perfect his craft and his vision. “I think my music is getting rid of genre, but I still have a base sound. I would put my sound anywhere from progressive or alternative hip hop and R&B,” he tells BLAC.

He’s got music in his blood -- one of his great uncles is Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops. But as an artist who both sings and rhymes on a track, King Visionary pushes the envelope while bringing a new outlook to how listeners classify hip hop and R&B. “I just want the people who listen to me be able to see my progression and willingness to try new things and see how versatile I am.”

His second album, Futuristic Soul Vol. 2. Is out later this year, a follow-up to last year’s Futuristic Soul Vol. 1. Previewing some of Vol. 2’s tracks in his home studio, there’s definitely a more soulful vibe than his first hip-hop-leaning outing.

King Visionary writes all of his own music while collaborating with his in house producers KidEquip, Hanzo, and Taylor AC. “I like having those three people. They’re my friends and I get a great vibe from them.” Making alternative hip-hop mainstream isn’t easy, but King takes two totally different genres to create an authentic sound that’s hard not to love. “What makes my music different is my sound is not really on trend. Everybody’s doing trap right now or on the party trend, and I’m not saying I don’t like it – because I do. It’s just not my thing.” 

-Lynzee Mychael

Molly Brazy: Petite and packing a punch

Molly Brazy doesn’t have trouble catching attention: The Joy Road rhymer has scored millions of YouTube views for music videos where she shows off her baby face and an assortment of guns that are nearly as big as her petite frame.

But while fellow Detroiter Dej Loaf uses Auto-Tuned melodies to ease listeners into her gangsta, Molly – who grew up in gangs as the younger sister of four big brothers, one on her mother’s side and three others with the same father, all of whom are currently incarcerated – uses drill-fueled beats and an uncompromising flow that matches her on-camera arsenal. Noted.

Her fall 2016 videos for “More Facts” and “Check Up” have racked up 1.4 million and 1 million views respectively, and subsequent videos with her regularly pile in six figures. But her mixtape Molly World backs up the theatrics over speakers with hard-nosed Detroit street rap that holds its own.

In interviews as recent as fall 2016, she said she was finishing her senior year of high school through online courses after getting kicked out of school for fighting a schoolmate. She seems to handle controversy pretty well. When an interviewer asks why she puts guns in her videos: “Because I can? The fuck.” Moments later, when propositioned with the idea of her being a bad role model: “I mean, I don’t really give a fuck.” Noted.

– William E. Ketchum III

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