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The Real Proof Is In The Proof
Written by Michelle Cavanaugh   

ProofpubProof, a.k.a. DeShaun Holton, played a pivotal role in the hip-hop community for the past fifteen years.

Just two months after the death of Detroit’s super-producer J Dilla , Proof was shot at the after hours club CCC along Detroit’s gritty Eight Mile Road.

While best known for being a part of D12, Proof was involved in the underground music scene long before the group’s formation.

Proof hosted the infamous Saturday night freestyle battle competitions at the Hip Hop Shop in Detroit for years. His high school friend, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem), was a steady contestant. Later, he started his own battle called the “Fight Club.” Mathers and Proof eventually became known for their undefeated title as freestyle champions. In 1999, Proof acquired The Source’s Unsigned Hype award.

Made up of Motor City’s flyest, finest MC’s, including founders Eminem and Proof, Bizarre, Swift, Kon Artis, and Kuniva, D12 refused to stand in the shadows of Mathers’ commercial success. In 2001, D12 released Devil’s Night. The debut album immediately topped the Billboard charts but received mixed reviews due to its graphic content. However, no one can dismiss it when it contains hit singles, such as “Purple Pills,” “American Psycho,” and “Ain’t Nuttin’ But Music.”

The 2005 D12 World  was released with high expectations from fans. It reached No.1 on Billboard charts and had two No. 1 hit singles. “My Band,” the first single, was a spoof on boy bands, including themselves. Proof reached his peak with his rhymes on “How Come.” With rumors flying that “How Come” was a verbal attack from D12 on Eminem or D12 on Royce da 5’9, the gossip around this track began to outshine the actual song.

Although Proof had seemed to put his solo career on the back burner, he was really just waiting for the right time to drop his solo debut. Searching For Jerry Garcia opened up another side of Proof. With an obvious obsession - dead rock stars are plastered all over the pages of the CD’s insert and the last track is titled “Kurt Kobain” - this album is like an intense psychological rollercoaster.

Proof is proof that it is possible to be part of a group and still possess individualism. He could have used the success of D12 as a crutch and followed the equation of shock value + humor = success. Instead, he did his own thing.

In Eminem’s 2005 music video “Like Toy Soldiers,” the narrative was based around the hypothetical shooting of Proof, including his funeral. With the actual death of Proof on April 11, 2006, the video has new meaning. Proof was only 32 years old.

Click for more R&B/soul and rap/hip-hop dearly departed in 2006


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