Bourbon at the Border dramaturgical research

VII. Detroit

In the 1990s, the city began to enjoy a revival, much of it centered downtown. Comerica Tower at Detroit Center (1992) arose on the city skyline. In the ensuing years, three casinos opened in Detroit: MGM Grand Detroit, Motor City Casino, and Greektown Casino which are now adding resorts. New downtown stadiums were constructed for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions in 2000 and 2002, respectively; this put the Lions’ home stadium in the city proper for the first time since 1974.

Live music has been the dominant feature of Detroit’s nightlife since the late 1940s bringing the city worldwide attention. As a birthplace of Techno music emerging in 1987 to venues worldwide, seminal Detroit Techno artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. This genre developed alongside Chicago’s House music, yet was more influenced by funk and European electronic pioneers such as Kraftwerk, as well as Atkins’s own early electro work. Techno reached a worldwide audience and in Europe triggered a revolution in both youth culture and music industry.

In addition, Detroit’s garage rock of the 1990s rose to national attention with the bands The White Stripes, Von Bondies, the Dirtbombs, and Electric Six. In recent years, bands like The Hard Lessons revived garage rock. Hard rock, powered by 101.1 WRIF, produced local success for bands like Sponge. Detroit Hip Hop rose to prominence in the late nineties with the emergence of Eminem, Kid Rock, Street Lord’z, Slum Village, D12, J Dilla, Obie Trice, Blade Icewood, Big Herk, and Royce Da 5’9 as well as other artists like Tone Tone and Esham. Detroit Rap and Soul are internationally recognized. Detroit Soul artists include Dwele, Amp Fiddler, Monica Blaire, and Kem.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the Michigan Legislature removed the locally elected board of education amid allegations of mismanagement and replaced it with a reform board appointed by the mayor and governor. The elected board of education returned following a city referendum in 2005. The first election of the new eleven member board of education occurred on November 8, 2005. Due to rapidly declining enrollment the city planned to close 95 schools and the state mandated deficit reduction plan calls for the closure of a total of 110 schools.

By the early 1990’s, Detroit saw dramatic declines in Devil’s Night fires. In 1995, Detroit city officials organized and created Angel’s Night on and around October 30. Each year as many as 50,000 volunteers gather to patrol neighborhoods. Additionally, youth curfews as early as 10 P.M. are instituted on the days before Halloween. Since the height of Devil’s Night arsons, arson have decreased almost to levels the city experiences on any given night.

Detroit hip hop’s earliest group to later gain national recognition is Prince Vince, formed in 1985 and signed with Mercury Records. Detroit is well known for its place in Motown Records and its influence shows in Detroit hip hop. The harsh environment of the Detroit streets, and the struggles most of its citizens experience on a day-to-day basis as they look for a way to economic prosperity is a recurrent theme in the music, and Detroit Hip-Hop is likely a product of this.

Although Detroit hip hop did not achieve mainstream success until the late 90’s, its origins can be traced back to the 1980’s where it was most prominent in the circles of the underground hip hop scene. In the late 80’s and 1990’s Detroit Hip Hop was relegated to college and independent radio stations, as mainstream radio had an unwritten rule against local artists. In spite of this, Detroit hip hop culture was and is still influential to other parts of the country. Tupac Shakur’s All Eyes on Me, which was released in 1996, is often credited with being the first double hip hop album, but Esham’s Judgement Day is the first true hip hop double album as it was released in 1992. In addition, Esham is also the first “horrorcore” artist, paving the way for artists like Gravediggaz and Insane Clown Posse. Well Dressed artists like AWOL and Detroit’s Most Wanted showed that one could wear “gators” and 3 piece suits and still rock a crowd and do it well, while female artists like Smiley and BO$$ could indeed hold their own against their male counterparts.

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