FLINT, Michigan -- It has been 12 years since Flint, Michigan, native MC Breed died of kidney failure in 2008, leaving a legacy as a prominent breakout Midwest artist who helped put his hometown on the map.
MC Breed is a Flint Hip Hop pioneer, but he's also responsible for creating a lasting Midwest sound.Born Eric Breed, the emcee made his introduction to the world in 1991 with the hit single, “Ain’t No Future In Yo Frontin.” Sampling the unforgettable high-pitched synth from Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm,” the single peaked at No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. He released his debut album, MC Breed & DFC, in the same year which went on to sell between 2.5 million to 4 million copies.
Avoiding the one-hit wonder curse, Breed charted the Billboard Hot 100 again with his 1993 single “Gotta Get Mine” featuring Tupac Shakur. Throughout the span of his music career, he released 14 studio albums and made guest appearances on albums from notable acts such as George Clinton, Too Short, Slum Village, and fellow Flint artists The Dayton Family.
MC Breed’s music continues to live on as fans and new listeners can find a bulk of his discography on today’s top streaming services. His story also continues to be told in hopes of keeping his legacy alive and thriving. Geri Zeldes, a professor at Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, is releasing the documentary, Breed & Bootleg: Legacy of Flint Rap, which will debut at the Detroit Free Press Film Festival.
“What inspired me to really take a look at MC Breed’s life is that he’s a part of rap history with an untold story,” said Zeldes. “It was such an amazing feat to be the first commercial rapper out of a small Midwest town at such a young age. Then he moved to Atlanta, but still really loved Flint, and I love that about him.”
Flint recording artist and producer Jon Connor also plays a huge role in helping to preserve Breed’s namesake. His 2011 single “Ain’t No Future,” which sampled Breed’s original debut hit, paid homage to the Flint legend while helping to bridge the gap between the 90s Flint rap scene and the current group of Flint artists.
“While I was at Aftermath, I met D.O.C [of NWA] and told him I was from Flint and the first thing out of his mouth was 'Eric Breed,'” Connor said. “It’s been many times I’ve met legends and the first thing they say when I mention Flint is MC Breed. He left his mark on the world and on Hip Hop. It's on us, the artists that came after him, to make sure his name lives on.”
For the new class of Flint rappers like Bfb Da Packman, Rio Da Yung OG, YN Jay, Louie Ray, and Jeff Skigh who are currently gaining popularity in their respective careers, Breed’s success still provides a sense of inspiration for the artists after him.
“It helped show me that it’s possible to do great things coming from such a small place,” Skigh said.
The spirit of MC Breed and his unique blend of Midwest meets West Coast sound will always be felt in Hip Hop culture, and especially in the city where he was born and raised. Brandon Tramaine Bell, a music aficionado and longtime observer of the Flint music scene, is more than hopeful that Breed’s legacy will keep forging ahead to inspire generations to come.
“When you’re creating, you want to be able to create something that's going to last a lifetime instead of a season. That’s what Breed did,” Bell said. “It's a certain pride I get when “Ain’t No Future In Yo Frontin” comes on; it’s undeniable. Everything he put out there embodied Flint, and we needed an artist like that to represent us as a whole.”