The West Coast (LA, The Bay) and Detroit might not be two regions that you hear compared too often. One is warm, sunny and ocean-side while the other is an aging industrial city on the not as scenic shores of Lake Erie. However, they have one thing in common. Their music.
Each city has had its unique influences, for example, Detroit had a large techno scene through the 80s and 90s. While on the other hand, the West Coast had more influences from the g-funk coming out of LA and later hyphy music coming from the Bay. As time progressed both scenes began to converge on one another on a similar sound to define their music.
So, what is that style? If I had to break it down, music from Detroit and the Bay has a few key similarities. Firstly, the fast tempo. Many of the songs break the mould of the trap sound which has dominated the hip hop scene since the early 2010s centred around 130-160 BPM. Meanwhile, artists from Michigan and the West Coast opt for BPMs over 180 and even pushing 220 to give the songs a different feel and energy than the darker, grittier trap style.
Secondly, big bass is important. Producers like ENRGY Beatz, Helluva and others make sure the 808 is hitting hard but not just that. The patterns they use to give each track so much energy. Songs like “Movie” by Rio da Young OG and Louie Ray is a great example. The 808s hit all over the place and give the track a crazy bounce.
Thirdly, the sample has to be on point. Artists such as SOB x RBE and the ShittyBoyz have brought back classic 80s and 90s dance samples into their tracks to amp up what are already energetic songs. Songs such as “Tootsie Roll” and “Like Dumb Shit” bring the energy by reprising classics such as “The Tootsie Roll” by the 69Boyz and “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by KC and the Sunshine Band. On the other hand, if they aren’t sampling, producers opt for a darker sound more similar to trap music, with dark pianos and strings like in “Steph McGrady” by RTB Capo and RTB MB a.k.a basketball player Miles Bridges and “Detroit Flow” by DaBoii
Finally, punchlines are king and the way you rap has to complement that. Lots of rappers who rap on these types of beats “punch in” one line at a time to get the most from each punchline and it works with each bar being its own joke and verses where each bar is trying to outdo the last one in terms of how funny or outrageous it is. Some of my favourite punchlines have to be:
“Filet mignon well done, where the Worcestershire sauce?” – Babytron, Scam Fiesta
“My bitch boutta leave me cause I’m built like Patrick” – Bfb Da Packman, Free Joe Exotic
“I’m a known homewrecker like Jerry Springer” – Remble, Rocc Climbing
With the number of artists from these regions on the brink of bursting into the mainstream, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sound coming from the West and Michigan goes global after trap’s dominance of the genre for the last decade.