Time for us to listen to some new music from Detroit area artists.
Our guides are Paul Young, founder and publisher of Detroit Music Magazine and executive editor Khalid Bhatti.
DeJ Loaf - “Changes”
Rapper DeJ Loaf (born Deja Trimble) grew up on the east side of Detroit and started writing lyrics from a young age. She continued pursuing music while attending Saginaw Valley State and working as a janitor at a Chrysler factory, but didn’t get much traction.
It wasn’t until July 2014, a full two years after she had released her first mixtape, that Loaf started making waves. That’s when her track “Try Me,” produced by Ypsilanti native DDS, caught Drake’s attention, and he referenced it on his Instagram. The shout-out from the Toronto superstar set off a string of unauthorized versions by other artists and eventually led to Loaf getting a deal with Columbia. She released a second mixtape and appeared alongside fellow Motor City hip-hop acts such as Eminem, Royce da 5’9”, Big Sean, Danny Brown, and Trick Trick on “Detroit vs. Everybody.”
Last December, Loaf told journalists that her first full-length album would be titled Liberated, with her manager adding that the album was “90% done” and expected to appear in 2017. Although we’re still awaiting its release, Loaf hasn’t been quiet in the interim. Her most recent single, “Changes,” should allay any fears that Loaf has gone soft in her bid for a larger audience. In lieu of the melisma and melodies she’s leaned toward with her work over the last year, “Changes” foregrounds Loaf’s technical prowess and po-faced lyricism. Producer Rick Reed gives the track the right mix of punch and polish, ensuring the sting of Loaf’s barbs sticks with you for a while.
Anna Burch - “2 Cool 2 Care”
Anna Burch is a familiar name in the city’s local music scene: She’s been a member of folk-rock group Frontier Ruckus, co-fronted the indie pop act Failed Flowers, backed Ypsilanti-based singer-songwriter Fred Thomas on his latest album Changer, and put out a split cassette with fellow Detroiter Stef Chura last year.
Burch recently signed to Polyvinyl and has released a new single, “2 Cool 2 Care.” The song features her trademark lo-fi style, but with the addition of dulcet vocal harmonies and chiming guitars, the effect is more girl group than Guided by Voices. Listen to the lyrics though, and you’ll hear a familiar (but no less painful) tale of pining after someone who doesn’t feel the same way.
According to Burch, “I have a tendency to overanalyze my relationships. When I started writing songs, they became a productive outlet for these near obsessive thoughts. I let the bridge of this song be a space for that kind of dissection and it wound up taking up almost exactly half of its entire length.”
Rebecca Goldberg - R2D on-air mix (11/5/2017)
Although Rebecca Goldberg grew up surrounded by technology, the Detroit-based DJ also came of age at a time when the internet had not quite supplanted terrestrial radio or record stores as the primary means of discovering music.
The serendipitous feeling of hearing something “new,” the limitless potential within electronic devices, and the happenstance inspiration of processes and programming — all of this can be found in Goldberg’s work today.
While her sound may be rooted in the rhythms and structures of the original techno pioneers, she uses it as a launch pad for her own explorations. Whether incorporating field recordings into her mixes or trying out a new experimental technique, Goldberg has taken all the restless energy and fearless spirit of her formative years and given it an update for the digital era.
Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.