While it's been a rather slow year for Detroit hip hop as a whole, groups such as Da Ruckus continue pluggin' away in the never-ending quest for fame and fortune. It's heavily anticipated release, Episode I is currently out and the duo has been busy promoting the project through various shows. Featuring everyone from Aftermath recording artist Eminem to R&B crooner Dale ("Soulful Mourning"), Episode I showcases a variety of styles, aimed to please one and all. "We Came Here to Party" has been making the most noise. Other standout cuts include "If the Beef ..." As a constant in the hip-hop scene over the years, producer MC Hush first gained critical acclaim for his contribution to Return of the DJs Vol. II, which was selected as one of Rolling Stone magazine's top 20 albums of 1997, while Da Ruckus' first album, Quiet As Kept, continues to be a hot seller. Lyrically on Episode I, Hush and partner Ill continue to improve on the mic, which has been a source of some criticism in the past. Putting in the work to make things happen, you can catch the dynamic duo this Saturday at Mt. Clemens' JD's Macomb Theatre (31 N. Walnut, 810-913-1921) where they'll be performing with Down Boyz and other area acts. For more info on Da Ruckus, call Federation Records at 888-924-3574.


Last you heard, Dennis White and the rest of Charm Farm were coming down from a bad trip with a major label. Mercury released Farm's Pervert two years ago, while the band was still halfway in the hands of the independent label PRA -- which had issued the initial version of Pervert. White, guitarist Steve Zuccaro and drummer Ken Roberts have since formed a new union called Control Freq, a band that only dabbles in the Popsicle-licking, Viagra disco of their past. These days, they reach, simultaneously, into rock history (Bowie) and the dark chasms of electronica (pick a name) to create more experimental grooves with more than one dimension. Their full-length debut, Freq Show, will break in Warner Brothers' new electronic imprint F-111 in February 1999.


Ann Arbor genre-bending pop-rock outfit Getaway Cruiser has, according to an Oct. 29 statement, "parted ways with vocalist Dina Harrison." The release continues, "The remaining members of the band feel good about moving forward, finding a new singer and making their next record." The Getaways have recently been touring in support of the band's debut Sony-550 full-length Getaway Cruiser. It seems as though Harrison's departure hasn't shaken Sony's faith in the group's musical and commercial future. According to the band's suddenly quieted Web site -- -- GC's musical engine, brothers Chris and Drew Peters, Dan Carroll and Mark Dundon is already in the studio working on new material. Given the Cruiser's already chimeric musical palate, we can only speculate on what sounds will emerge this time -- not to mention who will give voice to those new sounds.


As long as we're giving a rundown of Detroit-area, major label, rising, phasing and otherwise pulsating musical stars, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that those bringers of "the Swerve," the Atomic Fireballs, are also holed up in the studio laying down tracks for the band's forthcoming debut for Lava-Atlantic. If the 'Balls' preliminary independent release, Birth of the Swerve, is any indication, any cynicism about the blastin', dance-floor-friendly, well, firepower of the band's swinging live set translating to record oughtta be quieted. By indications, a full-length should put the octet in aesthetic league more with the roots-searching Squirrel Nut Zippers than the trend-chasing Cherry Poppin' Daddies and other members of the zoot suit brigade. It doesn't hurt to have Atlantic Records and Ahmet Ertegun in your corner, either. Stay tuned.

By Norene Cashen, Chris Handyside and Daniel D. Zarazua.