Like many Detroit genres, ghettotech sounds like it could have only been brewed from the sweaty corners of Motor City’s pulsing industrial landscape. A fusion of electro, techno, Chicago’s ghetto house, and Miami bass, ghettotech has operated as a playground for some of the metropolis’ most experimental electronic producers since its inception in the late-’80s, including legendary artists like DJ Assault, DJ Godfather, and Jeff Mills. In 2023, HiTech are carrying ghettotech’s torch, igniting the movement with their own kind of fuel.
Comprised of rapper-producers King Milo, Milf Melly, and 47Chops, HiTech take all of ghettotech’s classic elements—sped-up electro, distorted vocals, raw sexuality—and imbue it with a modern touch, distilled from growing up mining the depths of SoundCloud rather than tuning into underground radio stations. Détwat, their second full-length, uses nonstop 808s and a grab bag of freshly crate-dug samples to kick off the raunchiest, twitchiest club night since the heyday of Detroit techno.
From the first few seconds, HiTech impeccably set the scene: Featuring labelmate Fullbodydurag, from Omar S’ FXHE Records, “Nu Munni” launches a driving four-to-the-floor beat that rises steadily in your throat like a panic attack. More than anything else on the album, “Nu Munni” draws on the Detroit techno influences embedded in ghettotech, with HiTech laying down a sense of urgency that threads throughout Détwat. As a chubby bassline emerges, heaving breaths punctuate the production, operating as percussive stabs. There’s even a hint of ballroom here, when the beat suddenly drops and Fullbodydurag fires off the line, “Don’t start with me/Bitch I’ll finish it.” The bass levels sound as if they were being blasted out of a subwoofer in the back of a souped-up Honda; you can practically hear the screws rattle. More than simply paying homage to the genre that birthed them, on “Nu Munni,” HiTech are ushering it into the future.
Until now, HiTech were perhaps best known for their 2022 single “Cashapp,” which relied much more on Milf Melly’s rap skills than on its techno production. While Détwat’s hip-hop overtones are rightfully undeniable, it’s a cohesive evolution from the group’s 2022 self-titled debut album, in which the rap and electronic elements felt more disparate. “Birthday Pearls” is a lightning flurry of hypnotic bars; its pitch-shifting vocals give lines like “It’s my birthday/Suck a nigga dick or something” and “Pop that pussy, shake that ass/Stretch it like a yoga class” a sense of mischievous surrealism.
Lead track “Zooted,” featuring even more loopy, warped vocals, this time from yet another underground Detroit collaborator (DJKillaSquid), encapsulates the essence of ghettotech more than anything else on Détwat. Its hook—“I’ve been zooted/Bounce that ass”—is like a spiritual cousin to one of ghettotech’s most enduring anthems, DJ Assault’s 2002 masterpiece “Ass-N-Titties.” It contains the same joyful release of inhibition that defines so much of Black club music, and also like “Ass-N-Titties,” it’s funny as shit. The dance floors and nightclubs of this movement are first and foremost a place to have fun, and that spirit is front and center on “Teetees Dispo,” a story of love and lust told at breakneck speed. “If yo’ auntie in this bitch/She gon’ get on the floor,” raps our narrator, as the titular TeeTee drops it low. A second clubgoer approaches at the end of the song, delivering the final punchline: “Damn, who mama that is?/Nigga I think I like yo mama!”
“Teetees Dispo” condenses everything that makes HiTech unique in the contemporary U.S. hip-hop landscape—the deliriously catchy hooks, the unabashed humor, the detailed production, and the passion for their local scene. Ghettotech never went out of fashion in its hometown, and with Détwat, HiTech are twisting it into new, freaky shapes. It’s appropriately manic music that not only defies categorization, but does so with a blunt in one hand and a cup of Henny in the other, putting the booty bounce back in techno.