Local Wire

Elzhi @ Chasers

If you're looking for a hip-hop role model, Nas is a pretty good one. Detroit MC Elzhi (real name: Jason Powers) borrowed the title for his breakthrough mixtape, Elmatic, from Nas' classic 1994 Illmatic. Elzhi knows his stuff and, borrowed title aside, is more than capable of standing on his own. Elmatic finds Elzhi, a former member of the underappreciated (and J. Dilla-affiliated) Slum Village, ripping over jazzy breaks and scratching courtesy of Will Sessions. Tracks like "The World Is Yours" boast classic bravado and flow, and "One Love" features a bouncy, off-kilter sex parable with discordant upright bass samples. The album's centerpiece, "Detroit State of Mind," could well wind up in some Motor City automaker's commercial — that is, except for Elzhi's brutal lyrics about hood-rats and toothless doofuses. Elzhi's already moved on, though — his next release is set for this fall, and if he keeps on this path, he might write a record like Nas' 2012 release, Life Is Good, in 20 years, too.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.