'Breed & Bootleg' star hopes Emmy win motivates Flint artists to tell their story

FLINT, Michigan — “I hope that this award is a form of motivation and inspiration. I hope that local artists can see in us the true potential in themselves,” said Ira “Bootleg” Dorsey of The Dayton Family, when reflecting on the impact of bringing home an Emmy for the film Breed & Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music.

“My main goal when I came into this project was to represent and showcase the honest, transparent truth about the history of Flint hip-hop,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey was a co-star in the documentary that focused largely on the legacy of hip-hop in Flint. It was directed and produced by Flint native and MSU film professor Geri Alumit Zeldes.

In the one-hour film, Breed & Bootleg captures the true story of Flint hip-hop legend and music pioneer MC Breed who was known as the forefather of “Midwest rap.” The film chronicles the original story of hip-hop in the midwest and the influences that contributed to its distinct sound.

“Since my brother Eric Breed is no longer here with us, I wanted to make sure that I represented his legacy to the fullest. So that's why we brought in his family and the closest people to him to help tell his story and all he did for hip-hop,” said Dorsey.
Ira "Bootleg" Dorsey.
By sharing the life and legacy of MC Breed, and the cultural impact of hip-hop, Dorsey wanted to inspire other Flint artists to be brave and continue sharing their life stories through music.

On June 11, Dorsey was notified that the film officially won a Regional Emmy award in the Topical category. 

“I was honestly just satisfied with being nominated. I didn’t really expect to win so when I woke up to my phone full of texts and pictures of the Emmy statuette. I couldn’t believe it!”

To Dorsey, the award is more than an accolade, its validation of the humanity in the lyrics and the story behind the artist. It’s a symbol of recognition for the history of hip-hop in Flint and the journey shared by many artists from the area who are balancing the struggles of life with their artistry.

“I wanted to tell my truth and let people know all the hurdles I had to jump over to be where I’m at today. I struggled with drug addiction, several health issues, incarceration to make it to the other side. But I did it,” said Dorsey.

Throughout the film, Dorsey is also intentional about shining a true light on the process of influencing the culture of rap in Flint. Through vulnerability and transparency, he believed the film would touch the hearts of any audience and motivate them to push through adversity to achieve their dreams. He says he is proud to win an award for sharing his story and hopes it empowers the city of Flint.

“In Flint, we do it big or we don’t do it at all. This award shows that and I really hope this success motivates the people of Flint.”

Read more articles by Brianna Nargiso.