Capturing the culture that makes Detroit what it is.

Make it Last (Forever Detroit): Song Background

in Lyric Breakdown & Background by

The music I used for this song was taken from Keith Sweat’s 1987 song titled ‘Make it Last Forever.’  The song and album (of the same name) were successful records during the New Jack Swing era of R&B. Teddy Riley produced the song.

Coming of age, during the New Jack Swing era, I always appreciated the big drums, keys and samples in the music. Riley is regarded as the “Godfather” of New Jack Swing (New Jack Swing is a style of music that blends 1980’s style hip-hop music with 1980’s style R&B, soul and funk).

Keith Sweat, New Jack Kings, Detroit Mayor JeromeCavanagh & Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Family
Keith Sweat, New Jack Kings, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Family and Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh

The  music and era influenced many hip-hop artists. In 2010, I found out that two of the best rappers from Detroit dedicated an album to the music. T Calmese of the Subterraneous Crew  & Vaughan T of Athletic Mic League came together and created ‘New Jack Kings.’ ‘New Jack Kings is a project that exclusively uses music production created through sampling New Jack Swing music. My friend Nick Speed sampled Bell Biv Devoe’s ‘Poison’ … it’s amazing.

I used three vocal samples in the song to create an essence of Detroit. The samples included interview exerts from Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, researcher Kurt Metzger and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  Mayor Jerome Cavanagh begins the song. Mayor Cavanagh speaks about how Detroit flourished to automotive opulence. This is followed by an interview with researcher Kurt Metzger. Metzger explains the journey of Detroit and Highland Park from 1965 to 2005. Metzger recognizes the loss of manufacturing employment, polarizing racism and antiquated business ideologies throughout the Metro Detroit region. The closing sample is from Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Mayor Kilpatrick speaks about the opportunities throughout Detroit. Mayor Kilpatrick’s belief that Detroit is moving towards excellence is evident throughout his interview.

The lyrics I performed on this song were originally written and performed on “Not Sweet”.  ‘Not Sweet’ was a song featured on my 2009 album release “notes of an Artist & Activist II.”

I wrote the lyrics in 2008. I was 25 years old, heading to 26, with many of my perspectives towards life changing. I spent a lot of time speaking with, planning with and hanging with Brandon Jessup and Michael Willingham. Friendships with both have truly blossomed my growth. My imagination thrives when I have the chance to share conversations with people I feel understand me and challenge my ideas. Mike Will and BJ are key members in a collective of friends who add to my confidence.

Mike Will, BJ & the Crew
Mike Willingham, Brandon Jessup with US Vice Pressident Joe Biden and the Crew: Kasey, Mike, Chico, Zae, Dawon, Phil Jerrin and Khary

Brandon leads the non-profit organization Michigan Forward. Michigan Forward’s mission is to create progressive public policy initiatives for state and local government. Currently Brandon is a candidate in the 10th district for Michigan State Representative. You can find out more about Brandon’s campaign through his website by clicking the following link BrandonJessup .

Michael is the center of our collective. Everyone who’s been invited to and attended our annual cookout is connected to Mike. Mike is also an extremely talented visual artist. He currently runs the ‘Grind Ave’ urban apparel clothing line.  You can experience his artistry through his instagram account by clicking the following link michaelroze .

My lyrics for ‘Make it Last (Detroit Forever)’ chronicles my friendships’ with Mike and BJ. It’s a coming of age story in arts and politics. In writing the record, I challenged myself to welcome the listener into discussions we’ve shared. I wanted to capture the pressure I felt at 25 years old looking towards 30. Collectively, I felt we enjoyed the existence of being children inspired to create. There, after we were pressured into being labeled “Black”, then pressured into being labeled Detroiters and finally being pressured into being labeled adults. I felt we were essentially being challenged to change.

AR Det Ernie copy

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