Few people have had as much impact on the flourishing underground Detroit rap scene as House Shoes, and after helping dozens of artists break through, the revered DJ and producer looked at his own career.
“I’m not an Oprah Winfrey fan at all, but one of her great quotes is, ‘You can’t help anybody until you help yourself,’” House Shoes says. “It just came to that because I was constantly remaining at the same level and pushing everybody else up, and it was time for me to devote all my time and attention to increasing my brand.”
One result of this shift in focus is “Let It Go,” House Shoes’ dynamic debut album. Released in June on Tres Records, the 18-cut collection features the type of boom-bap, gritty underground rap that House Shoes helped promote, cultivate and create. The crisp drums and minimal beat of “Sweet” provides Danny Brown plenty of room to deliver heavy-handed rhymes, while the bizarre sound effects on “Crazy” serve as a captivating backdrop for guest vocalists Black Milk and Guilty Simpson.
House Shoes shows his versatility as a beat maker on “Castles.” Featuring vocalist Jimetta Rose, the soulful song is a dedication to his late friend and fellow Detroit rap ambassador J1. Although the song is a thematic departure from the braggadocio and tough talk rampant throughout “Let It Go,” House Shoes says the song will be relevant to anyone who has lost someone special.
“Music can be very heavy,” he says. “It’s good to have that weight and that emotion. It’s not all about mindless fun and games. You’ve got to strike a chord with people once in a while. That definitely happened with ‘Castles.’”
House Shoes believes the Detroit sound prominent throughout “Let It Go” stands in rarified air.
“Detroit hip-hop, in my opinion, is probably the most influential and one of the most loved subgenres within hip-hop, outside of the original incarnation of classic New York hip-hop,” he says. “I think the eyes are on us, from Dilla to Black to Guilty. And now you’ve got Danny Brown. It’s a very, very strong lineage.
“It’s not in us to feed the sheep,” he continues. “We’re trying to feed the people who have a different taste and are not just content with listening to the music that the person in the car next to them is listening to.”