The owners of Detroit's Hip Hop Shop, where Eminem often performed early in his career, say that the venue plans to reopen.
The Hip Hop Shop, a clothing store and Rap venue, was opened by two Detroit natives, Jerome Mongo and Maurice Malone, in 1993. Eminem, his fellow D-12 members and other rappers performed in the venue throughout the 1990s. The store/venue hosted open mic Rap battles every Saturday until its closing in 1998, as per mlive.com.
Mongo and Malone have announced plans to re-open the shop, possibly in a matter of months. They plan to relocate the store for a more contemporary feel, which might comprise of extreme sports and visual art.
"It will be a whole different vibe," Mongo says, as per mlive.com. "It's going to be totally different clothing. The scene isn't going to be recreated. It's going to be totally different."
This store in the '90s was likely the inspiration behind the Battle Rap scenes from Eminem's film 8 Mile. The movie featured Mekhi Phifer, who plays the main character's close friend Future, hosting the events at the venue. In real life, Eminem's close friend, the late Proof, also member of the Rap group D-12, served as host for the Hip Hop Shop's Saturday rap sessions.
Mongo says he hasn't ruled out having an open mic day at the new Hip Hop Shop.
Mongo is focused on finding the right location for the venue, with possibilities either in the Cass Corridor or Eastern Market.
In 2011, Elzhi spoke with HipHopDX about the Hip Hop Shop.
"Detroit Hip Hop started from this place called the Rhythm Kitchen," Elzhi said. "From my understanding, because I was too young to go there, it was like a restaurant. And Maurice Malone, Proof and a few other cats used to just bust freestyles in the Rhythm Kitchen…just having a little cypher. That grew into Maurice Malone’s place that was on 7 Mile Road and Foyer called The Hip Hop Shop. The Hip Hop Shop was like a clothing store that turned into an open mic on Saturdays from 4:00 to 6:00. You had Proof hosting, and it was crazy."
During the 2011 interview, Elzhi also shed light on other artists who performed at the venue, including Eminem.
"The first cat I ever saw on the mic was Obie Trice," El said. "Later on, I would see people like Slum Village before they were Slum Village. I saw Phat Kat, Royce Da 5’9 and Guilty Simpson. But what’s really crazy is how I met Eminem. The first time I met Eminem was over the phone. My man Proof called me up on the three-way, and he was like, 'Yo, I want you to hear my man spit.' So he had Eminem spit for me. [Proof] respected me because he kinda knew that I studied the same emcees that he and Eminem studied. We’d spend many nights just talking about patterns—like shadowboxes, mirrors and all that. So Eminem spit for me, and when he was done, Proof was like, 'So what he sound like?' And after I told him Eminem was pretty fresh, he goes, 'Yeah, I bet you ain’t know he was white though.' And I didn’t, but I thought that he was pretty dope. Later on, I saw Eminem on stage demolishing cats with crazy lines."
Eminem has referenced the Hip Hop Shop on several songs, including "On Fire" and "Move On."
A video found on Detroit Hip Hop Shop Detroit explaining the history of this venue can be viewed below.