Detroit is known around the world as the birthplace of techno music. And, each year, thousands descend upon the city for the annual Movement Music Festival, a three-day event that celebrates the genre with a standout lineup of live performances. However, a little-known fact about the festival is that it also spotlights artists who don’t fall into the typical techno category. Movement Music Festival is constantly stepping outside its boundaries, welcoming rappers, hip-hop producers, funk, and other techno-adjacent creatives to its stages. This year’s festival will take place from May 25-27 in Hart Plaza, and these are five genre-defying artists you won’t want to miss.
Virgil Abloh is recognizable to street style savants and fashion fanatics as the designer behind Off-White and Louis Vuitton Men’s. But long-time fans of Abloh’s can attest to his creative capabilities outside of clothing. The Chicago native has a deep history with the arts including architecture, graphic design, and music. Abloh began DJing as a teen and has kept up with the craft despite his busy design schedule. On the turntables, he finds inspiration in mixing samples from various hip-hop artists.
Following a string of mixtapes, the Detroit native made big waves in the music industry when he debuted his first album, The Hybrid, in 2010. Now the rapper is bringing his unique sound to cities across the world, including London, Dublin, and Amsterdam, as well as the stages of Movement Music Festival. Brown released his latest album, Atrocity Exhibition, in 2016, which features hits like “Really Doe,” “Ain’t it Funny,” and “Pneumonia.”
The Atlanta artist notably helped launch the trap music genre prior to his prison sentence in 2014 for possessing firearms. Following his release in 2016, the rapper turned a new leaf, and has debuted a number of successful albums. Both Everybody Looking from 2016 and Mr. Davis from 2017 reached the No. 2 spot on Billboard 200. He released his most recent album, Evil Genius, in 2018, featuring collaborations with artists such as Bruno Mars, Migos, and 21 Savage.
A DJ, producer, and MC, Madlib grew up in California with a family of musicians — his father was a jazz and blues artist, his mother a guitarist and songwriter, and his uncle was a jazz trumpeter. When he came onto the hip-hop scene in the early ’90s, he already had a plethora of knowledge about the record-making process. He’s gone on to find massive success since then with his own music. Madlib has also worked with the likes of De La Soul, Erykah Badu, The Beastie Boys, and Detroit’s own J Dilla.
Sheefy McFly is known as the “Detroit Renaissance Man” for good reason. The rapper, producer, and painter takes a multi-faceted approach to creativity. He’s made a name for himself in the Eastern Market art scene — his work is a staple at Murals in the Market. He also performs at local venues like Deluxx Fluxx, The Skip, and Marble Bar. Sheefy doesn’t prescribe to one style of music. Instead, he mixes hip-hop, techno, funk, ghetto tech, and house sounds to create a one-of-a-kind experience for fans.
Related: Keeping Up with Sheefy McFly