Detroit West

Someone said that if you can make it in Detroit, you can make it anywhere. But they didn't know Detroit music, because the local artists often make it anywhere else but here. The once slightly popular but always respected Detroit hip-hop group Frank N Dank had a strong affiliation with longtime friend and collaborator J Dilla, practically toured the globe twice over and, like many other Detroit musicians, found careers mostly abroad. Frank Nitt (born Frank Bush) is now reintroducing himself to music fans as a new artist entirely. He's working with famed L.A. producer Terrace Martin, and you can hear Nitt's growth on the new EP, Jewels in my Backpack, which drops next month on Delicious Vinyl.

Nitt is headed back to Detroit to kick off his U.S. tour. He had this to say: 

Metro Times:
How's living on the West Coast?

Frank Nitt: It's cool for me. My decision to come out here was based on music. I'd been here a few times, coming out here with Dilla. I think what finally made me decide to move is that there's so much music business out here. In the D, I was able to hang out with stars, but that was based on me being next to Dilla all the time, but here, you run into people randomly. Plus, New York is not the place for me. I'm not really a fan of like, walking. I'm a Detroit nigga; I need a car.

MT: Many Detroiters in L.A., eh?

Nitt: It's a lot of Detroiters here. This is the new launch pad almost. [House] Shoes is out here, Lacks is out here, Mayer Hawthorne is out here, Illa J is out here, and like Buff1 or Majestik Legend or eLZhi and a lot of folks from back home venture out here often. L.A. is very similar to the D; it's spread-out, everyone has to drive, but it has better weather. It's real easy for Detroiters to come out here and do well. The business is good. 

MT: Where's Dank?

Nitt: Dank is good. As a duo, our career wasn't really based in the U.S., so a lot of folks didn't know what was up with either one of us. We do projects and releases with artists in other parts of the world that may not make it here. He's working with folks all over the world, Italy, Switzerland, etc. He's working. ... We're grown men and businessmen; you gotta get your grown man on, and keeping things moving

MT: Why the title Jewels in my Backpack for the new album?

Nitt: I think, being from Detroit, I had a rough and gritty sound. ... I'm a back-pack emcee based on the trajectory of my career. I'm considered underground, right, until one of my records jumps the fuck off. And it's cool, I own it. But Terrace Martin, he's made hit records with DJ Quik and Snoop, and gives my music a more shiny, more polished sound than what people would have expected. It's a mixture of the two styles.

MT: Why do Detroit musicians get so much love overseas? 

Dank: They love the Detroit sound. I think they appreciate how we bring it. They think we bring it real hard. They see shit on the news and how difficult it is to make it out. ... I think people realize that if you can be all the way around the world performing music from Detroit, then you must be special.

Frank Nitt performs with Illa J, Grim Ace, Miz Korona and fowL, Sept. 30, at Bullfrog, 15414 Telegraph Rd., Redford; 313-533-4477; 10 p.m.; $10.

Jonathan Cunningham is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]
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