Interview

Detroit MC making the revolution irresistible

Interview

Invincible

Saturday, 2:15pm, Blue stage

Detroit MC Ilana Weaver, known onstage as Invincible, is unique in a couple ways. She had the dual view thing going on long before most rappers. Coming up in the late 1990s alongside Eminem, she took a very different path with the personal and mental politics of her music.

"I started writing rhymes when I was 9, only two years after moving back to the U.S. from Israel-occupied Palestine," she says. "I only spoke Hebrew when I moved to Michigan, and hip-hop helped me learn the language. I would look up the lyrics I didn't understand in the dictionary, and then eventually began writing my own."

Her 2008 debut, Shapeshifters, is a whip-smart demolition of modern hip-hop, a rumination on identity and bigotry, and a love letter to Detroit in the face of financial blight. Check this stanza from "Locusts": "Auto industry's widow/On the auction floor they start to bid low/On houses with hanging gutters and peeling shingles/Purchased at a nervous pace and a cadence/I heard a wrecking ball hit a building that's mistaken for vacant/A sleeping city awakened."

She also started her own label, Emergence Music, and is heavily involved in community organizations like the youth program Detroit Summer. Weaver describes her involvement much like her approach to music: "We start with a message but work to make it accessible. In Toni Cade Bambara's words, 'Make the revolution irresistible.'"

A 7-inch single with producer Waajeed this summer gave a taste of what Weaver's been up to lately and what her next full-length might sound like.

"With this new project, I've been studying complex science's connection to social movements and reading tons of physics books to gain new perspectives, vocabulary, and metaphors," Weaver concludes. "I dabble in drums to help me develop new cadences and patterns. I sometimes record nonsensical rhythms with my voice over Waajeed's multilayered canvases, then go back later and fill in the words like a puzzle."

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