By: James Clark
Detroit block parties are nothing without good music. It’s curated beats booming out of a neighbor’s stereo system that make you realize the musical legacy the city owns. It’s the freedom music provides that brings communities together, and allows friends to dance carefree for hours.
Detroit native James Harris, or more popularly known as The Blackman, created his name because of his complexion. He said he wanted a wordplay on his melanin.
The Blackman started to DJ when he was 14-years-old. He was inspired by disco and funkadelic music. He officially started his career in 1984 at the age of 19 traveling with young rappers. His career spiraled from there.
“I was hell bent on being in music from the start,” said Harris.
He pointed out changes in the music industry throughout the course of his career.
“Growing up you listened to regional music,” said Harris.
“Music on the radio was controlled by a DJ, not a program director. You never heard the same top pop songs playing over and over.”
Regionalism is the reason he chose to stay in Detroit. He said he had freedom to produce the music he wanted, and a reputation already built.
“We have to spread our boundaries and distribute music, but that doesn’t mean we have to leave our communities,” he said.
The Blackman has an album dropping later this year, I Got What You Need. It will have 16 tracks featuring different artists. He expressed his gratitude for the hard work and talent his band and fellow artists put into making the album.
We can expect to be seeing more videos from The Blackman.
The next time you’re feeling funky put on The Blackman, and be taken away to the local beats of a Detroit musician who has spent years mastering his craft. Just as Harris reminds us, remember to appreciate regional music and support local artists, you’ll never discover the hidden treasures until you do.