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May 2015

Homemade Music Jazz & Hip-hop: If Detroit were Heaven Album Release Concert

in Events by

By Morgan Coby

“Detroit is a place for most, to me it’s a verb. I Detroit with my music.”—Khary WAE Frazier.

The Hip-hop artist and community advocate has lived in, worked in, performed for and in honor of Detroit for over 16 years. Saturday June 27, 2015 9PM-12AM at the Jam Handy, Khary WAE Frazier will be presenting Homemade Music: The If Detroit Were Heaven Album Release Concert. Since 2011, the vision of “Detroit Heaven” was created in the shadows of the negative, tragic, and painful imagery. The tasteless depictions of Detroit, Hip-hop, and young Black men inspired Frazier to make the album “If Detroit Were Heaven.”

Frazier is a hip-hop artist carrying a mantle of the creativity & vision of his passed friends & mentors: Civil Right’s Attorney Chokwe Lumumba, Focus :HOPE founder Eleanor Josaitis, Judge Claudia Morcom, and the Songstress Ortheia Barnes, while balancing the lessons of Detroit-based rap from passed icons MC Breed, Proof, J Dilla and Blade Icewood who all served as cultural & personal inspirations for Frazier.

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Alex White & Khary WAE Frazier rehearsing for the June 27 performance. Photo’s by Zenobia Jeffries above photo by Mark Mastropietro

The If Detroit Were Heaven album release performance will highlight several songs from the album. Drummer Alex White (currently touring with Jazz legend James Carter) is the composer for this musical potluck of Jazz, Hip-hop, Soul, and Latin sound. The album captures the eclectic mix of energy, passion, and emotions Detroiters express about neighborhoods, people, places, and events that have impacted the city. Frazier’s lyrics take listeners on journeys through his days at Northwestern HS, to the beauty of a family embracing a neighborhood, and the tragedy of racial misunderstanding that has restrained Detroit historically.

The concert takes place at the Jam Handy multipurpose artistic space run by new Detroiter Simeon Heyer. Located blocks away from Motown Record’s Hitsville USA, the Jam Handy sits at 2900 E. Grand BLVD Detroit MI, 48202. The reconditioned production studio serves as a connected vision that speaks to finding the ‘Heaven’ in Detroit.

Collaborating for this event are: Slow’s Bar B Q to Go, Spectacles Boutique, Our/Detroit Vodka, and Urban Organic. All four entities are adding to the rich culture anchoring the vision of Frazier’s website www.detroitisdifferent.com. There, you will find people and places that make the culture of Detroit universally distinct. For tickets, more information, and to hear the music, please visit www.detroitisdifferent.com.

What if … Detroiter’s had our Retro Hustle (The Entrepreneurial Spirit of past Generation’s)

in What if ... by

Attorney Todd Russell Perkins has built Perkins Law Group in the style of his Father’s business and Grandfather’s business. Perkin’s Grandfather was born in Arkansas in 1889. In the 1910’s he moved to Detroit to explore his entrepreneurial ambitions. In Detroit Perkin’s found a home and business. Opening, owning, and operating a restaurant and barbershop on Hasting’s Street in Detroit’s Black Bottom. His barbershop was located next door to the legendary Bosky’s Drug and General Store on Hasting’s street.

In the tradition of the family Perkin’s Father carried on as an entrepreneur. Perkins’s Father expanded his Father’s barbershop into a chain of seven barbershops throughout Detroit. Throughout the 1960’s this business provided the stability for Perkin’s to explore more business ventures. As a collective of businessmen and burgeoning Detroit leaders Perkin’s Father, Judge Damon Keith, Judge Fred Bird (of 36th District Court), and Hall of Fame Football Player & Chicagoan Buddy Young all inspired one another. Perkin’s Father eventually settled into the business of contractual construction, clean up, and development. This business flourished as a foundation for his family, friends, and community.

“Detroiter’s always have had a swagger different than any and all. When I was at Dartmouth as an Ivy Leaguer my Detroit style attracted, engaged, and captured my peers and professors alike,” Attorney Perkins. “I believe if what I learned from my Father was taught and applied today, there would be no limitations for the Black Detroiters of today. I’ve never seen some of the things that are happening in Detroit till this day. I think many of Detroit’s Black business people are not imposing our wills into the business sector of what’s happening in our city,” Attorney Perkins.

Detroit's Black Bottom
Detroit’s Black Bottom

Editor’s Note – Attorney Todd Russell Perkins had the honor of working with the late Mayor Coleman Young before his passing and after his service as Mayor of Detroit. His legacy and impact on the city established institutions of Black leadership that are unparalleled to any American standard (DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland, etc). This reality I witnessed as a child is the reasoning behind why I feel it’s unjust and out of context when many, and most campaigns highlighting today’s development in Detroit as Detroit’s only progress in over 40 years. This marketing ideal I first recognized propagated with the last Gubernatorial campaign of current Michigan Governor Rick Synder I think unjustly dismisses decades of Black political leadership that has routinely had to operate local governments with less resources than adjacent and formerly White run administrations.

Attorney Perkins was on the legal team bringing Coleman Young’s vision of a Black owned and operated casino to Detroit. The casino would have been named Paradise Valley. A collection of Black business stakeholders would have been involved in breaking ground on this venture. But the casino would have provided jobs, contracting, and investment opportunities for Detroiters. “Coleman Young wasn’t even into gambling. He knew that the commodity done correctly in Detroit in the 90’s would have provided an economy for Detroiters,” Attorney Perkins. “He was such a visionary in his understanding of process. He pinpointed the location for the casino to be where the MGM Grand is located now. Also he was negotiating the expansion of the people mover to reach not only the casino but throughout Detroit,” Attorney Perkins. “Having the foresight to include everyone into the Detroit was the genius of Coleman Young. Today using talent, skill, and process the same success is achievable in Detroit,” Attorney Perkins.

“Today Detroit is starved for attention. The Meijer that just opened on 8 Mile Rd is their most profitable store in the state. This is operating on less than the 24 hour cycle that all other Meijer stores operate. The Whole Food’s store in Detroit is the most profitable store in the state albeit is the smallest Whole Food store in the state of Michigan. These are examples of the services and goods Detroiters seek. It’s unfortunate that many Detroiters aren’t taking advantage of these business opportunities,” Attorney Perkins.

“I believe through faith and vision so much is possible. If Detroiters collectivize and invest in one another the resources are available to have our city flourish,” Attorney Perkins.

The Entrepreneur: Introduction to Todd Russell Perkins

in Introduction by

The story, ambition, and wit of people like Todd Russell Perkins inspire me to continue to develop Detroit is Different. Perkins is an Ivy League graduate of Dartmouth College, Leader of Perkin’s Law Group, and an attorney for the World’s best boxer, Floyd Mayweather. But if you speak with attorney Perkins, he will gladly share with you, he’s most proud of being a second generation Detroit entrepreneur.

Attorney Perkins has a different style and approach towards life that carries over into his practice. Gathering an understanding of who he represents, and what they’re looking for in representation is his goal. Many attorneys, doctors, politicians, engineers, and other professionals (with advanced understandings) disassociate themselves from the people who they seek to assist. Attorney Perkins is entrenched in Detroit life, and understanding Detroiters.

His poignant style of humor, compassion, and cool, provide a personable balance for his unmatched intellect. Leading Perkins Law Group he anchors a team of eight attorneys all specializing in different disciplines of law.  “The experience I’ve had in law has taught me about the human condition,” Perkins. “It has made me more circumspective, more rounded, more of a whole individual.” Espousing his philosophy about his practice, he says, he tries to determine exactly what the client wants, be it to fight in court or resolve a situation out of court. What the client wants, tempered with reasonable and possible expectations, is critical in the ultimate service of the client.

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“My purpose is to increase my understanding of the client. My dad, who was not a lawyer, gave me a piece of advice that was better than any lawyer could have given me. He said the practice of law is always about the management of the expectations of your clients.” He said, for example, if a client wants a million dollars for a slip-and-fall, “my job is to get their information and educate them on the reality of the situation.”

“They have to trust their lawyer,’ he said. “But it is equally important for the lawyer to earn trust of the client.” Perkins is married and has 2 children. When talking about inspirations in his life, Perkins says, “First God, is the center of my life.” He also points to his parents. “My parents showed so much love for my family, I seek to walk that path with mine,” Perkins.

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