Tuesday, April 11, 2006

R.I.P. Proof of D-12, 1975-2006

a.k.a. DeShaun Holton, who was shot and killed at an after hours club in Detroit early this morning. Proof won the Source's Unsigned Hype award in '99 after establishing a reputation as a superior battle MC, but he wasn't fully recognized in hip hop until '01 with the release of D-12's Devils Night, Eminem introduction to the world of his city's then-local talent. As 1/5th of the group, or 1/6th if you count Eminem (and 1/7th if you count Eminem's star power), he brought some credibility and a unique mic presence to a crew of rappers who, for the most part, tried to be "Eminem mini's" by emphasizing grotesque and shock value in their lyrics; few would disagree with the claim that Proof was the 2nd best out of the crew. Unfortunately, the embarrassing '04 single "My Band" practically confirmed the masses' acceptance of D-12 as Eminem's underlings. Proof was the 1st member of the crew after Em to release a solo album with '05 Searching For Jerry Garcia, which featured 50 Cent, Method Man, B-Real and Nate Dogg, in addition to Em and D-12.

For those that didn't know, Mekhi Phifer's character in 8 Mile was modeled after Proof, who went the farthest back with Eminem out of the rest of D-12, was the best man at Em's wedding, and also had a cameo in one of the movie's battle scenes. Ironically, in the video for "Like Toy Soldiers", Em's track intended to dead his beefs before he saw any one of his close friends killed, it was Proof who played the fictional victim whose funeral was attended by all at the end. Although I've been critical of him very much in the past year-plus, I have to say I feel bad Eminem right now -- with his recent divorce and ensuing child custody battle, the murder of one of his best friends is probably the last thing he needs right now. Also, following the death of legendary producer J. Dilla two months ago, and Shady Records' own Obie Trice getting shot in the head on New Years Eve (a wound which he has since recovered fully from), Proof's death continues what has been a tragic year for Detroit's hip hop scene.

Condolensces to all those closest to Proof, and may he rest in peace.