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Birth nameBrian Harmon
OriginDetroit, Michigan, US
GenresHip hop
Years active1988–present
LabelsStraight Jacket
Associated acts

Brian Harmon, better known by his stage name Champtown, is an American rapper, disc jockey, film director and teacher from Detroit, Michigan. Founder of the Straight Jacket independent record label, Champtown is known for helping establish the careers of a number of Detroit hip hop artists, including Kid Rock. He has also worked with Ice-T, Rev Run, Public Enemy and Uncle Kracker.[1] He is currently producing a documentary film, The Untold Story of Detroit Hip Hop, which will be narrated by Chuck D and feature interviews with notable Detroit rappers.[2]


Harmon grew up in the Fairport neighborhood, and attended Detroit Boys and Girls Club with the drug dealers Best Friends. Attending the Boys and Girls Club, Harmon was the subject of much racism.[3] Harmon's older half brother, John, took him to his first hip hop music concert, the Fresh Fest, at the age of 8, leading Harmon to become enamored with the genre.[3] In the second grade, Harmon met future rapper Esham, and the two performed together at open mic events at Seafood Bay.[3] In one occurrence, Harmon and Esham were forced to rap for a drug dealer at gunpoint.[3] Although he was kicked out of high school, Harmon earned his GED at the age of 15, and began a professional music career.[3] Through his manager, local DJ Blackman, Harmon became friends with a young Kid Rock, and was a member of the local hip hop group The Beast Crew, with Blackman, KDC, Chris "Doc Roun-Cee" Pouncy and Kid Rock. The Beast Crew split after Kid Rock signed with Jive Records, and Harmon formed the Straight Jacket independent record label in 1990.[3][4] The label operates under a strong DIY ethic.[3]

Eminem made his music video debut in Harmon's 1993 video for "Do-Da-Dipity", but they later had a falling out,[2][3] resulting in Soul Intent, Eminem's group, producing the record "Fuckin' Backstabber"[citation needed]. A later Harmon video, "Bang Bang Boogie", featured appearances by Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy.[3] In 2001, Straight Jacket signed a national distribution deal with Sumthing Distribution.[4] In 2005, Harmon wrote the song "I Used to Think I Was Run" for Rev Run's solo album Distortion.[1][5]

In 2009, Harmon joined the Institute of Production & Recording as a teacher.[1] In 2011, Harmon began working on a documentary film, The Untold Story of Detroit Hip Hop. The film will focus on the city's hip hop music scene from 1982 to present, and highlight underrepresented rappers such as Esham, Awesome Dre, Detroit's Most Wanted,[6] Big Herk, Rockbottom, Street Lords, Chedda Boyz, Royce da 5'9", Slum Village, Trick-Trick, Stretch Money, K Deezy, Verdict, J Dilla and Detroit Hit Squad,[2][7][8] as well as chronicle the early days of pioneers such as Kid Rock, Insane Clown Posse and Eminem.[2][9] Harmon has stated that he wanted to resolve his former issues with Eminem in order to keep his documentary historically accurate.[2]

Harmon also created an underground interview series called "Footage fa dayz" where he films famous celebrities giving very raw interviews.[10] A special sneak peek of the classic footage is available on

Style and influences[edit]

Harmon's influences include Run-DMC[3] and LL Cool J.[3] Harmon was once known for performing in a jester's hat.[3] He directly influenced Kid Rock,[3] and is believed to have shaped the styles of Insane Clown Posse.[3]



  1. ^ a b c "Industry Veteran André Fischer Joins Faculty of Legends at The Institute of Production & Recording". 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  2. ^ a b c d e [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Smith, Brian. "Music: Champ's town". Metro Times. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  4. ^ a b "Archives of The Detroit News". 2001-04-20. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  5. ^ "I Used to Think I Was Run - Rev Run | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. 2005-10-18. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  6. ^ "√ Chuck D dei Public Enemy narratore di un documentario - Rockol" (in Italian). 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  7. ^ (2011-05-24). "Watch: Trailer for Chuck D-narrated 'Untold Story of Detroit Hip-Hop' released". Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  8. ^ Greg Watkins (2009-03-02). "Detroit Hit Squad Covered in New History Channel Doc". Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  9. ^ Greg Watkins (2011-11-02). "Rare Eminem Footage Featured In Detroit Hip-Hop Documentary". Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  10. ^ Greg Watkins (2012-08-06). "EXCLUSIVE: Insane Clown Posse To Appear In "Untold Story of Detroit Hip-Hop"". Retrieved 2013-12-26.

External links[edit]