Marty visits the home of his childhood idol Eminem during his turbulent teenage years, the same city that has gone through the struggle and is rising back up with its strong foundation and love for the hustle.
Flying directly from NYC, I really didn't know what to expect besides Detroit was once a thriving American state. It was home to one of the greatest entrepreneurs that ever walked this Earth, the auto visionary Henry Ford; one of the biggest hip hop artists in the world, Marshal Mathers or Eminem, who starred in the Detroit-based film 8 Mile; and one of my favorite motivational speakers, Eric Thomas.
You will likely pick it up from the media and read how notorious Detroit is, with one of the highest murder rates in America – a city full of crime and violence, a city left for dead, a place where you don't actually want to go.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
I was running on two hours of sleep from a late night photo shoot in NYC when I arrived in Detroit. Sitting in the back of the taxi, I was trying to catch a vibe for the Motor City when I noticed some of the artwork on the streets in the outer suburbs. The creative spurts went something along the lines “It takes a strong heart to stand and fight for what you believe in, when everyone else runs away.” It did resonate with me.
As I got deeper into the city I couldn't help but notice the infamous old English Detroit logo “D” being worn on snapbacks and tee shirts, and even tattooed on arms. Straight away I could see people have a sense of pride: they ride for their City.
After my week in NYC I couldn't help but noticed one of the biggest shifts. People here are friendly, like really friendly. People hold doors open for you. Police officers wave as they drive past. People smile. After arriving from NYC, it was refreshing, very refreshing.
Being a fan of Eminem since I was 12 years old, I wanted to go and experience firsthand the hood he grew up in, I wanted to see the locations in which 8 Mile was filmed, I wanted to go deep into the hood of East Detroit to see how grimy it really is, I wanted to see the streets which Henry Ford built his empire, and I wanted to see Detroit for what it really is: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Hope on the streets
I meet up with my homie Ryan Ason, a local videographer and photographer we previously featured on the blog. I spent the next 72 hours on an odd mix of things, sleeping for a total of about 12 hours. Ryan gave me the locals’ tour of the hood where Eminem grew up, scoping out the eerie abandoned buildings for photo shoots, and speaking with local in the liquor stores deep in the East Detroit hood where I kicked it with a cool local.
I remember asking, “What do you guys do for fun on the weekend?” He replied, “MAKE MONEY.” I couldn't help but laugh as I love the thought. It was all dope and real: the mentality, the hustle.
I walked the streets of downtown, which was full of life, business people, live music, hipster cafes, and thriving local business. The night life of Greek Street was a standout – all of the back end of local businessmen and owner of the establishments…
The whole time I was in Detroit I was just riding a vibe. I could tell there was a sense of community, I could tell the city had gone through the struggle, I could tell the city was in a rebuilding phase.
But I knew that a strong heart can never be beaten when it still believes it has a chance and it hasn't given up the fight.
Photos: Ryan Ason (Instagram)