Remember when Prodigy threatened to "rock you in the face [and] stab your brain with your nose bone" on "Shook Ones Pt. II"? In an art form that draws inspiration from aggression, a lot of MCs pop shit but few can make a death threat a hip-hop quotable. "It ain't really about sayin' the toughest shit," says Detroit MC Guilty Simpson. "It's about how you say the toughest shit."
Hoping to join the elite ranks of hardcore poets, like his idol Kool G Rap, the 31-year-old rapper, born Byron Simpson, uses intricate rhyme styles to get his menace on. "I like to combine the aggressive shit with true lyricism, 'cause I like the art of creating the rhyme, too," he says.
As the lone hard rock on indie label Stones Throw's roster, Guilty got his start rhyming 12 years ago as a member of Tha Almighty Dreadnaughtz. Attacking open mics (and sometimes other MCs) in the late '90s, the lyrical bully rolled in the same circles as Eminem, D12 and Slum Village. After paying his dues on the local scene, Guilty gained the attention of two pillars of the D's underground hip- hop community: D12's Denaun Porter and late great producer/MC J Dilla. "Those two were planning on doing an album together with me called The Verdict," he reveals. "Dilla was gonna get half, and Porter was gonna get half."
Dilla's subsequent sickness (which led to his death from a rare blood disease in early '06) left Simpson's solo debut at the demo stage. But all wasn't lost for Guilty, as Jay Dee featured the up-and-comer on his 2003 collaboration with fellow producer Madlib, Champion Sound. Guilty also appeared on Dilla's posthumously released album The Shining, where the grimy MC spit, "You can catch Guilty Simpson at a rave with babes/Packin' a .38 snub and a razorblade."
Now Guilty is preparing his official first LP Ode to the Ghetto. Featuring production from Madlib, Denaun Porter and, of course, J Dilla, the album should impact the game the same way that nose bone would your brain. "I just think about buildin' my legacy, so when it's all said and done, I'll have a lot of evidence to prove that I made my mark," says Guilty. "I ain't tryin' to do one record and disappear. Fuck that!"