By: Nicole DiMichele, Philip Mcguigan and Gus Navarro
Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation is a women’s hip-hop collective that operates out of the 5e Gallery in Corktown. The 5e Gallery is a space where artists teach, celebrate and expand on hip-hop culture and how it can be used as a means of liberation for youth and adults alike. The 5e prides itself on being a safe space for everyone to come and learn about and hone their craft, whether it be learning how to MC, produce a beat or break dance. Despite the heavy emphasis on masculinity within much of hip-hop, the members of the Foundation work tirelessly as a unit to continually create avenues for women to make their voice heard and engage in community within the Detroit hip-hop scene.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with four members of the Foundation, Miz Korona, Nique Love Rhodes, Insite The Riot and Jaci Caprice. These incredible women could not have been more welcoming to us and gracious with their time. When you talk with them, it is so clear that they care for each other on a level of friendship that is grounded in warmth and love. It was an honor to be around that and to hear what they had to say about the various issues related to the art they produce and community projects they are a part of. In the interview we discussed various issues such as community engagement, education, gentrification, feminism and hip-hop, feminism and the ways in which these things related to their experiences within the Detroit hip-hop community. Based on this interview and our own visit to the 5e Gallery, it became clear that the Foundation is one of the only safe spaces for hip-hop artists that exists outside of normalized heterosexual and binary gender identities.
Given the continual drive towards gentrification in Detroit, the Foundation and The 5e Gallery are a vital piece of a community that was in existence long before the supposed rebirth of the city. Taking that into consideration, we feel that it is important to highlight the grassroots movements in Detroit that are doing important work, while at the same time lying in tension with the corporations and young professionals that are flocking to the city, ultimately perpetuating the marginalization of people, predominantly those of color, who have been living there for generations. Given our interview, we strongly believe that the corporate world and the grassroots world could work together to achieve a more sustainable movement to bring the city back. By combining the monetary resources that corporations have access to and the knowledge and experiences of the established grassroots movements, Detroit could be an example of a type of gentrification that is not oppressive or destructive, but rather inclusive and ultimately equitable.