Proof: Beyond Eminem's Shadow!!!
Perhaps best known to the world through Mekhi Phifers character Future, in the major motion picture 8-Mile, Proof finally talks about his now famous career as a freestyle MC, his D12 days, and his Search for Jerry Garcia
If ever there was a freestyle champion, Proof is it. Now notorious for his effortless yet direct flow, Proof began his rap career by discouraging others.
Man, it started by going to this club called The Wisdom Kitchen hosted by Maurice Malone, I went there and rocked the open mic a few times, then from there he opened his store (Maurice Malones Hop Shop), and I started taking the open mics to clubs that didnt even necessarily do open mics, like regular dance clubs cause I was the guy known for the open mics you know? Thats how the whole freestyling thing came about.
Proof would go on to win competition after competition slowly establishing him as one of Detroits most recognized and respected wordsmiths. He perfected his crowd rocking abilities, with a commanding stage presence and a real ability to connect with the audience. I was at an underground show outside of Detroit a few years back, where some local artists were performing. Towards the end of the show, a rumor began spreading through the small venue that Proof might be in the building. Similar rumors are commonplace at small shows, so no I didnt really pay too much attention. Just as I was about to bounce, one of the MCs announced that he had a surprise, and brought Proof to the stage. Now, Ive been to a lot of shows and seen a lot of dudes on stage. Proof literally set that mug on fire. I mean, he stood perfectly still, and made eye contact with every single audience member, all while spitting crazy rhymes as if his life depended on it. The crowd rejoiced with every bar. It was like people were trying to hold back their enthusiasm just so that they didnt miss a rhyme. Could that type of energy be put on wax?
I like performing on stage man, I like both of um, because they like the same, they feel the same. Recording is nice, you know, but Im a people person you know? I like to work the crowd.
Searching for Jerry Garcia may represent Proofs exploration as a solo artist, but hes no newcomer to recording success. D12s multi-platinum debut album Devils Night sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. The group followed it up with a second multi-platinum album D12 World in 2004.
Proof chose legendary writer, musician, performer and activist Jerry Garcia as the focus of his first solo album. Garcia (1942-1995) was the world famous lead singer and guitarist of the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead. Although he struggled with drub addiction for much of his life and career, he was memorialized by then president Bill Clinton as an American icon. If youre reading this and asking yourself: Who is Jerry Garcia? Dont worry, youre not alone. The question on everyones mind is how could a figure from such different genre relate to hip hop music and culture?
You know what man? Its so many things that I point to Jerry Garcia from my life right now. One is his demise came from stress drugs and poor diet, and that makes everybody searching for Jerry Garcia. The other thing is that he was a true epitome of an artist. I mean in hip hop this art form is so lost, so Im searching to become a true artist in hip hop.
That search has birthed a totally new sound, unlike any of his previous work with D12.
The idea was to stray as far away from the D12 sound as possible. So therefore you could define D12 from Proof and Proof from D-12. I didnt follow any D12 format, I wanted a different flavor; a different environment, but at the same time my D12 sound is still different. And still have Derrty Harry alive in the D12 world. I chose the producers I wanted to work with. Production wise my goal was to bring shit like that to wax. And to have fun. You know, I wanted to do what nobody is doing all types of crazy shit. However I felt that day, I put it down that way. This is step one, Im feeling more confident as an artist cause this album is done. This is my step one, I definitely feel more mature.
Proof also has broader plans for the music industry. Earlier this year Proof launched his own label, Iron First Records. With the enormous success of the Shady/ Aftermath empire, itd be easy to imagine him trying to follow their lead. Not so.
I got a few characters in mind, Purple Gang is one. Im not gonna keep the same Shady records blueprint, I might sign a rock band or a jazz artist or something. Something a little different man, a spin off. Everybody is doing the same shit. I feel like its time for some diversity and some great music.
The plan and the music are different, but the relationship between Proof and the D12 family is intact. Besides guest appearances by Method Man, Nate Dogg, 50 Cent, Obie Trice, and MC Breed, the album features verses by D12s Bizarre, Kon Artis, Koniva, and First Born.
Its clear that although he acknowledges his link the successful people around him, hes not in anybodys shadow. In fact, On Ali, Proof sides with close friend and partner Eminem regarding his highly publicized feud with The Source.
Basically that was taking a jab back for my dog Eminem, I know that because Im inside Eminems graces or whatever the Source would never give me a fair judgment on my album, you know what I mean, and I know that I put out an album it might not be a classic classic to them or 5 mics worth, but I know it aint no 1 or no fucking 2. That was what that was about. Just gimme one then cause all I need is one mic to rock a crowd and Ill rock anybody they done gave 5 mics to.
Detroit stand up. Its Proofs time to shine.