Despite Detroit’s well-publicized political and financial issues, the city is a bright spot for the genre of music called rap. The hometown of Hip-Hop’s all-time biggest star, Eminem, is also the home of acts like Big Sean, Danny Brown, Guilty Simpson, Elzhi, and the late J Dilla.
The next artist in line from the D is the hardcore yet lyrical East Detroit emcee, 20 Twen. After releasing the critically acclaimed ‘No Feelings’ project on his own No Feelings Music Group label in 2013, 20 is gearing up for the release of his first official studio album in 2014 titled “A Clockwork Black”.
20 Twen recently spoke to Examiner.com about this new single ‘Rollin’’, his musical inspirations, and his upcoming album, A Clockwork Black.
SS: Tell me about the new single ‘Rollin’'.
20 Twen: It’s produced by C-Sick out of Chicago. He did the ‘Val Venis’ track for King Louie. He’s going to be producing a lot on the album. It’s a pretty mainstream sounding track. I like the sound of it. It’s got some guitars and a lot of other sounds in it that I really enjoy. It’s more up-tempo than the Clockwork Black album is going to be. The direction that I took the album is more dark, but the instrumentation in that one is a representation of what the album will be.
SS: How’d you come up with the Ten Minutes of Death concept?
20 Twen: I didn’t wanna do any hooks. It kind of was a throwback to when Game did ‘500 Bars’. I wanted to do some New York borough type rap. It was just to be as ill as I could in that span. I wanted to do about 3-or-4 of them and one day release them like a whole collection so I could give you 30 or 40 minutes of it.
SS: Who inspired you to want to be an emcee?
20 Twen: I’ve been a fan of the Fat Boys, Beastie Boys, and Big Daddy Kane but I’d say Jay-Z the most. I think I was more influenced by him and the Roc-A-Fella era more than anybody.
SS: Why Jay-Z?
20 Twen: It was more so the era. I loved the whole thing. I still think that the intro to The Dynasty is one of the coldest intros ever. I still like his music now but when he had Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 it was edgier and harder. That’s the Jay-Z that I took whatever I could from.
SS: Detroit emcees have such different styles from Eminem, to Royce, to Danny Brown to SV. How would you classify the 20 Twen sound?
20 Twen: There is a lot of metaphors in my music. I would say my music is more mood music. I try to find a beat that fits the mood of the direction that I want to take the song to, and then I write the lyrics around that.
SS: So you never write just to write? It’s always to the beat?
20 Twen: I never write just to write, never, ever.
SS: Explain the title of your upcoming album, A Clockwork Black.
20 Twen: If you’ve seen the movie A Clockwork Orange it’s pretty dark and controversial. Not that my album is controversial but I will say that there are a lot of dark themes in it. I’m not really trying to drive the album in that direction, honestly. It’s just being from Detroit and being honest and a representation of where I’m from, a lot of the stuff is dark. But it’s not all bad. I looked at the surroundings in the movie and it’s just a wild broken down city. It wasn’t a lot of rules and stuff like and it reminded me of where a lot of inner-cities are now. It’s crazy – no rules.
SS: What can fans expect to hear on A Clockwork Black?
20 Twen: I touch on a lot of different subjects. You’re going to hear a lot of bangin’ beats, though. I’m trying to get some mainstream features. There are a few dudes in Detroit that I’m trying to get to work on it. C-Sick is going to be a producer on it. There is a guy named Kevin Holiver in Detroit who is going to be on it. I’m talking to K.O. Expect a lot of dope story-telling, a lot of ill metaphors, and strong choruses. It’s going to be dope.
SS: Is there a projected release date?
20 Twen: Honestly I wanted to put it out in October of this year. It may not come out until February or March of 2014. I’m trying to lock down the features for it and I want to make it a bigger project than I thought I could originally.
SS: What do you hope to achieve with No Feelings Music Group?
20 Twen: I wanna be able to represent my city and myself musically. Eventually I wanna be able to sign other artist, not just rappers. I want to sign singers, rock groups, anything. I just want it to be good music.