Motor City Cribs 

Driving past Guilty Simpson's cute little Dearborn Heights bungalow with flower pinwheels in the front lawn, the last thing you would guess is that its resident is about ready to take Detroit hip hop to a new level. But barely a year after the release of his classic debut LP Ode to the Ghetto, Byron "Guilty" Simpson has two amazing records up his sleeve – both are the work of veritable hip-hop supergroups.

The first record is his collaboration with genius producer Madlib called O.J. Simpson, which is set to drop within the next month. Then, early next year, Random Axe, his collaboration with prolific Detroit producer Black Milk and Brooklyn-based emcee Sean Price of Boot Camp Clik, will hit the streets.

One of the key people who helped take Guilty and much of Detroit hip hop to the next level is manager, creative director, writer and friend Hex Murda. Hex (nee Eugene Howell) gave Byron the "Guilty" moniker, and they've known each other since high school. Brutally funny and equally brilliant, Hex manages Guilty Simpson and Black Milk as well as working with Paradime, Slum Village, Trick-Trick and Royce da 5'9" among others. 

On September 13, Hex suffered a massive stroke that would have killed most people. Still hospitalized in intensive care, his absence leaves a huge void in the Detroit hip-hop community. To honor his massive contribution and to help defray his medical bills, an unbelievable lineup has been put together for a benefit this Saturday at St. Andrew's Hall – Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Paradime, Fat Killahz, Trick-Trick, Royce da 5'9," Phat Kat, Slum Village, Danny Brown and DJ House Shoes. All for $10. In Europe a lineup like this would be a major festival. 

Says Guilty, "Hex is the glue that holds it all together; there's nothing he wouldn't do for you." House Shoes adds, "When Proof left us, Hex basically assumed the role Proof had … helping cats get their shit together and helping them business wise." Former roommate Paradime sums up, "He's the most intelligent and well-read person I know, as well as the toughest, most insane bad motherfucker I know. He's the most respected man in the city regardless of music."

Hex Murda's benefit is set for Saturday, Oct.16, at St. Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit. Donations to help defray Hex Murda's medical bills can be arranged through thehexcarefund@gmail.com.

More by Doug Coombe

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