Invincible ShapeShifters

Invincible ShapeShifters
Detroit has been a hotbed of gritty hip-hop music in recent years and Invincible is definitely doing her part in continuing to build on that tradition. Part of the reason that ShapeShifters is such a potent tour de force is that Invincible has been doing this for years. After using hip-hop rhymes to learn English when she moved to America from Israel as a child, she emerged in the late ’90s as a member of the all-female Anomolies crew and garnered a rep on the indie hip-hop circuit, fending off numerous record deals from major labels. Doggedly retaining her independence, she linked with Waajeed of Platinum Pied Pipers, continued her work as a passionate community activist and painstakingly crafted her debut full-length. It’s well worth the wait. Tackling urban blight, gentrification, religious and cultural intolerance, as well as race and class schisms, with an unerring eye, Invincible, who labels her rhymes "ransom notes,” is not exactly subtle but the record succeeds where many message-laden hip-hop records fail. Invincible’s lyrics don’t overshadow the fact that she is an immensely talented MC, from a stylistic and technical standpoint, and it also helps when the likes of Waajeed, House Shoes and Black Milk are delivering undeniable beats that match the mood of her hard-edged delivery. Despite the often critical words she has for her immediate surroundings, "In The Mourning,” a tribute to Detroit hip-hop legends Proof and J. Dilla, proves that her home helped put her heart, and mind, into this impressively motivating project.

"Locusts” talks specifically about the issue of gentrification in Detroit. What has troubled you the most about this?
It’s kind of a sad state of affairs. The main thing that kind of struck me the hardest, and I talk about this in the song, is that the Superbowl came to Detroit [in 2006] and they were trying to fix the city up to look nice and to give a good image on national television, so they demolished the Motown building. Most people know Hitsville USA as the Motown building and that was where it started. But actually shortly after that there was a huge downtown building that was the Motown office building and it’s stood there abandoned for the last couple of decades. It was being demolished for a parking lot that wasn’t even paved in time for the Superbowl. Stuff like that is devastating. I mean, this city has so much rich history like that. Everywhere you turn stories have been untold.

Were you really training to be a carpenter as you mention in the lyrics to "Looongawaited”?
I really was, I swear. There’s so much abandoned housing in Detroit, you just look around and you’re like, "Man, I want to buy a house and fix it,” so that’s a life skill to have, you know? So I studied for a while; it was my last job before I started focusing on music. I literally woke up one day ready to go to work and my car was no longer where I had parked it the night before. So I had no way to get to work anymore. We have like the jankiest bus system ever. So I just called up my boss who I was apprenticing for and I was like, "I can’t come no more” and that’s the moment I started focusing on the album. That was the catalyst for it. (Emergence Music/Fat Beats)