Panic in Detroit

According to Panic in Detroit’s press release, the local indie film “explores the violent struggles, bold eroticism and raw emotions of people fighting for respect.” We’ll see; it doesn’t premiere until September. But there are definitely elements of that statement in the film’s sound track. Fully 100 percent homegrown, it blends R&B, hip hop and the sound of Mexicantown with dialogue samples and some rock (Brent King’s cover of Bowie’s “Panic in Detroit” is, at least, ambitious) for a set that’s tenacious, prideful and a little defensive, just like the city itself.

“It sucks,” the R. Kelly-ish Paul Hill sings in “These Issues,” detailing his day-to-day difficulties, and that’s plain honest. There’s a thread about being owed in tracks from Paradime, Jackie Plummer & Lawrence Roquel Payton Jr., and Mitch E. Mitch — owed respect or at least recognition for repping from a problematic Motor City. Even the Howling Diablos get into the act, fueling the Rare Earth groove of “Nobody in Detroit” — with lines about hotwiring cars and loneliness. The bitterness can be trying; Panic could use some cock rock or even metal to grade off some of its grit. Still, its view of the D is straightforward. And there’s some sun here too — Liliana Rokita’s “Caminos Confusos” is a gorgeously bittersweet salsa ballad, and ubiquitous local DJs Godfather and Mike Scroggs put a capable techno pulse behind Petula Clark in “Downtown.” Ultimately Panic in Detroit understands Detroiters’ scowling pride. A series of late-album interviews are telling. “I have hope,” says one woman determinedly about her city, while another is more pointed. “I got [Detroit] tattooed on my ass, so I gotta love it.”


The sound track release show featuring Paradime and SOL is Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Magic Bag (22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030).

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].