Arts & Entertainment
Cleaning out her closet
Lesbian rapper's 'ShapeShifters' uses killer skills to call for Detroit social change
By Laura Witkowski
Originally printed 09/04/2008 (Issue 1636 - Between The Lines News)
What if I told you that the next big thing in hip-hop is not only from Detroit but a woman? Maybe you'd nod your head and smile politely and not really give it much additional thought. Well, what if I told you that this particular emcee was not only a woman, but a white, pro-Palestinian Jewish lesbian? Now you'd think I'm totally full of it.
But believe it. Detroit rapper Invincible is the real deal. Her new album "ShapeShifters" is poised to put her on the map quicker than you can say, "Eminem, who?" Her skills are impeccably tight and her lyrics a testament to a razor-sharp intelligence - all with irresistibly fresh beats and production.
Not only does "ShapeShifters" - available now through Emergence Records http://www.emergencemusic.net - showcase a creative force to be reckoned with, but Invincible has the revolutionary streak that Detroit so desperately needs right now. She is invested in progressive social change in the city and gives back to the community. From working to showcase other Detroit artists to organizing youth-led media arts projects with non-profit Detroit Summer to speaking out against sprawl and injustice, Invincible uses her skills as a vehicle for social change.
On "Deuce/Ypsi," she raps about the hidden racial/economic strife she saw growing up in Ann Arbor ("White picket fences, green lawns, nice rich expensive - college campus, so progressive every child advances - lies and deception ..."), while "People Not Places" tackles the Israeli-Palestinian crisis ("Jewish law of return I don't seem to understand - a land without a people, a people without a land - but I see a man standing with a key and a deed in his hand ..."). Most politically powerful is the closing track, "Locusts" - an indictment of those who are developing Detroit for their own ends and not to better the city and its people.
Though frequently political, Invincible knows how to get her message across: Instead of feeling frustrated, a listen to "ShapeShifters" will leave you inspired and empowered. In the liner notes she writes, "There's an unofficial motto in Detroit: 'Opportunity in crisis.' Out on the edge of destruction is where the emergence of resistance, transformation and new life can start to take root. In the D we see self-reliant communities, urban farms and innovative music rising up through the rubble of post-industrial disinvestment and abandonment."
This is your city - Invincible will provide the soundtrack while you take it back.Laura Witkowski is a freelance writer in Ferndale. To comment on this story, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.