What I Love about Detroit: Expats wax philosophical about their hometown

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that “where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”


Detroit is a city that, over two decades, has seen hundreds of thousands of its native sons and daughters leave and relocate in greener pastures. In 1950, Detroit was the fifth-largest city in the U.S. with 1.8 million residents. As of 2019, there are just over 670,000 of us die-hards remaining. Still, no matter where they may roam, even transplant Detroiters know there’s no place like home.


As we approach 313 Day — Detroit’s unofficial holiday — Model D spoke with several creative Detroiters from around the country about what they love about the city, what they miss the most, and what they like to do when they're in town. They may live far away, but their hometown remains near and dear to their hearts.


Dia Easley AKA Ms. Dia

Occupation: Radio host, spoken word artist, and accessory designer

Location: Atlanta

A hardcore hip-hop fan, Ms. Dia shows her Detroit love in Atlanta through hip-hop events. She was one of a small group who chartered buses to bring ATL transplants back home for the first annual “Dilla Day,” the celebration of legendary producer, James “J. Dilla” Yancey, who passed away in 2006.


What Detroit means to me: "I didn’t realize how special we were until moving to Atlanta, how much Detroit means to me. The city teaches its children how to survive, thrive and create beauty out of anything."


Michael Buchanan AKA DJ Houseshoes

Occupation: Professional DJ, record label owner

Location: Los Angeles

Spice Adams. Courtesy photo.One of the most influential members of the Detroit hip-hop movement, Shoes was the resident DJ for nearly a decade at St. Andrews Hall. As an early contributor to the scene, Shoes was known for his DJ skills, hip-hop knowledge, and music production. A frequent J. Dilla collaborator, he has traveled the world celebrating the late, great producer since his death.


In L.A., Houseshoes is still slinging records at his Street Corner Music label and prior to the coronavirus pandemic was spinning tunes at several weekly parties.


What he misses most: "I miss record shopping and kickin' it with the homies. Being able to see my mom whenever I want. And, playing records for our community. The Detroit hip-hop community is more than just my friends, that’s my other family."


Jamishia Smith

Location: Laurel, Maryland

Occupation: Executive assistant and content creator at TheYBF.com (Young, Black, and Fabulous)


A classmate of Spice Adams, Smith relocated to the DMV and took a role at a popular gossip blog, The YBF founded by journalist Natasha Eubanks. Smith is best-known as a connector of people who has a network and Rolodex to be envied.


When she’s at home, her favorite thing to do (other than being with family and friends) is to eat hometown favorites like coney dogs and corned beef sandwiches. But, her mom’s kitchen for fried chicken is always her first stop.


What Detroit means to me: "It actually means everything to me because it's not only where I started life, but it seems like it's where everything for the CULTURE did as well.


"You think about how much our hometown has given to the world — AUTOMOBILES, MUSIC that has lasted generations, the Black Middle Class — and really just the hub for Black Power & Excellence. I ABSOLUTELY love being from The D and make sure I represent Detroit wherever I go. #WhatUpDoe"


DJ Houseshoes. Courtesy photo.Anthony “Spice” Adams

Location: Suburbs of Chicago

Occupation: TV show host, entertainer


A graduate of Martin L. King Jr., Senior High School, Spice Adams is known for his hilarious viral videos. A former NFL player, he found a second career making videos for social media. He’s known for his impressions of older Black Detroit men complete with a full suit and colorful alligator shoes.


In 2016, Adams had a recurring role on the HBO show "Ballers" and was host of several seasons of "The Great American Baking Show" on ABC.


What Detroit means to me: "Everything. Other than my parents, Detroit is what made me who I am today. Detroit taught me how to hustle, how to work hard, how to get up, and go get it. Detroit is a blue-collar town that ain’t afraid to work. I grew up seeing people go to work no matter what. It’s the home of Motown, the Motor City, Chrysler, Ford, and GM, the Big 3! My dad is at the Ford plant right now! It’s embedded in your brain to work hard at whatever you do and you don’t lose it as you grow older. We move differently and people respect it! What up doe, Detroit!"


Lesleigh Mausi

Location: Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Occupation: Festival owner and member of the Ebony Anglers


The wife of Sulaiman Mausi of The Right Productions, which presents the annual concert series at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, it’s no surprise that one of Lesleigh’s favorite things to do is see a good concert.


She and her husband acquired ownership of the Art of Cool festival in the Raleigh-Durham area in the summer of 2018, bringing curated soul music performances to their Southern home.


One of the things Lesleigh, a Renaissance High School grad, misses most about Detroit is how substantive and relevant Black history is in the city. But, like most transplants who flee for warmer locales, she doesn’t miss trudging through slushy snow or the low temperatures that we call, “The Hawk.”

What Detroit means to me: "Detroit to me means strength and creativity; it is my foundation. Detroit is what I’m made of. It’s what I bring to the table wherever I am. It’s the beauty, the grit, the hustle, the history, the love and the people. It’s a special place that breeds resilient people."

Read more articles by Biba Adams.

Biba Adams is Model D's Editor at Large. Biba Adams is a longtime journalist whose work is fueled by her passion for people and her native Detroit. Her work has appeared in VIBE Ebony Magazine, and more. Find her on all social channels @BibatheDiva.
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