Over the course of the city’s recent history, Detroit aficionados have moved from the simple calligraphy “D” to shirts emblazoned with a profusion of slogans: Made In Detroit in 1991, Detroit Hustles Harder in 2007 and finally, the ubiquitous Detroit vs. Everybody in 2012. The variety of merchandise quickly expanded from simple tees to coasters, keychains and everything in between, each printed with the quippy slogan of their specific brand. Though one could easily argue that the Pinterest-friendly products are merely a byproduct of gentrification, the popularity they have garnered cannot be denied.
In 2014, unofficial Detroit ambassador Marshall Mathers (AKA Eminem — can’t believe I have to say that) released a single titled “Detroit vs. Everybody,” drawing direct inspiration from a phenomenon that started as a mere article of clothing. The song features fellow Detroit musicians Big Sean, Danny Brown, DeJ Loaf, Royce da 5’9” and Trick Trick, paying homage to the slogan in its repeated hook. The phrase itself may not literally mean much, but that’s not what matters. What does matter is the notion that Detroit has served as a model for other great cities. Sure, they may be copying a mere T-shirt, but the idea that Detroit has had aspects worth imitating has been alarmingly obsolete for the last several decades.
This is not an ode to gentrification, but rather an acknowledgement of Detroit as a shining new archetype of city pride.
Calm down, New York and Chicago. But thanks for reminding Detroit that it is worthy of emulation. Just wait until you see what else we have up our novelty T-shirt sleeves.