Does Macklemore represent an Eminem/Elvis situation for Seattle hip-hop?

Sir Mix a Lot

Sir Mix a Lot

When Sir Mix-A-Lot reached number one on the Billboard chart and won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance with his song “Baby Got Back,” Seattle hip-hop was placed on the national and international stage in a way that few places outside of New York and California had been to that point. With this accomplishment came questions, and some assumptions, about who would be the next figure in Seattle hip-hop to receive this kind of mainstream recognition. Given the immense power of the Seattle music scene as a whole at that moment, few would have guessed that it would be nearly 20 years before someone from the 206 would approach Mix-A-Lot’s prop levels.

Fast forward to 2012, the release of the album The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and the song “Thrift Shop.”  In terms of popularity, “Thrift Shop” had the necessary universal thematic and sonic ingredients to compare favorably with “Baby Got Back’s” ability to make an impression on the mainstream.  In terms of theme, “Thrift Shop” touched upon the increasingly popular concept of pushing back against designer clothing labels and supporting second hand stores like Goodwill and Value Village.  Sound-wise a catchy, looping saxophone melody made the sound of “Thrift Shop” easy to bob your head to and remember.

Almost exactly in between these two book-end Seattle songs, Eminem emerged from Detroit, Michigan.  His wave of success in the early 2000s revived a discussion about the white MC that had been essentially tabled since Vanilla Ice’s brief run in the early 1990s.  However, the key difference between Eminem and Vanilla Ice was that Eminem was recognized as a highly skilled rhymer.



This was certainly not the case with Vanilla Ice, even by 1990s standards.  With millions of records sold, a handful of Grammy Awards and even an Oscar for the song “Lose Yourself” off the soundtrack from his film 8 Mile, talk began to swirl around Eminem’s place in hip-hop history.  With this discussion came the inevitable comparisons to Elvis Presley.

After following in the footsteps of and borrowing liberally from pioneers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Elvis used movies and music to eventually become acknowledged by the mainstream as ‘the king’ of rock and roll.  These comparisons were not lost on Eminem, who in his song “Without Me” noted:

I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley, to do Black Music so selfishly
and use it to get myself wealthy (Hey)
there’s a concept that works 20 million other white rappers emerge

From its beginnings in New York City hip-hop culture has always been much more multiracial than mainstream media gave it credit for.  However, as a descendent of the legacy of privilege, power and oppression that led to the creation of hip-hop in the first place, the white male MC has always occupied a complex space in the culture.  This is in large part due what Charles Aaron, in his article “What the White Boy Means When He Says Yo,” describes as black people’s suspicion of “whites who identify too closely with African-American culture, primarily because those same whites often want to boost the culture wholesale.”

Traditionally this suspicion has taken two forms; the previously mentioned “Elvis Syndrome” and what Aaron refers to as the “White Negro Problem,” a Norman Mailer idea from the 1960s, or culture appropriating ‘wiggers’ as they have been renamed in hip-hop terms.



Although it is true that in the time between Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore the Seattle hip-hop scene has produced a variety of impact players who reflect the diversity of the greater metro area, its the lily white image and population percentage of Seattle that brings an added element to this dynamic.

In some ways, questions around the likes of Eminem and Macklemore begin to center around the status of the subculture of white hip-hop.  For example, in a larger historical context think of the cultural beginnings of the United States.  On certain levels early American culture was essentially a subculture of British culture until at some point, U.S. culture matured and stood on its own.  Similarly, hip-hop culture began as a subculture of African-American culture until, probably sometime in the late 1980s, it became a culture unto itself.  Have we reached a point where white hip-hop culture has begun to stand on its own?  If the answer is yes then what, if anything, does that mean?

In the 20 years since “Baby Got Back” was released, the song has been elevated to the rarified air of iconic pop cultural status.  The white girl saying, “Oh my God Becky, look at her butt!” at the beginning is one of the most repeated lines in recent music history.  The continued appeal and relevance of the song over the years is clear as it continues to make appearances in various form of popular media such as commercials for Burger King, Charmin Bathroom Tissue and Target as well as in movies like the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez bomb Gigli, Scary Movie 4, and probably most famously danced to by Cameron Diaz in Charlie’s Angels.

With the video for “Thrift Shop” at well over 400 million views on YouTube and the song and video nominated for all types of awards, this song appears well on its way down the path of “Baby Got Back.”  But with this, how will the various media elements document the history of hip-hop in Seattle in the post “Thrift Shop” era?

The ‘newest, latest is the greatest thing ever’ crowd who frequently populate social media could certainly have the potential to reduce over 30 years of history to essentially ‘the Macklemore show.’  However, Macklemore himself does not come across as the type who would approve of this approach having thoroughly acknowledged the richness of this history in 2009’s “The Town.”  In addition, the fact that the beginning scenes for the “Thrift Shop” video take place in front of the Northwest African American Museum is significant.

With songs like “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love,” Macklemore has risen to massive prop levels by going directly against two of the most well established norms in mainstream rap, namely bling and homophobia.  While it took longer than some may have thought for the city’s next hip-hop superstar to arrive, Macklemore is a great representation to the world of what Seattle hip-hop was and is, though not the only one by far.

written by Dr  Daudi Abe

Dr. Abe teaches at Hip-Hop Theory & Culture at Seattle Central Community College and is author of the book ‘6 N the Morning which chronicles West Coast Hip Hop History‘  Email:



Is Eminem Being Unfairly Targeted for His Homophobic Lyrics Because he’s White?

There’s a lot of buzz around Eminem‘s recent 60 Minutes appearance with Anderson Cooper. On the surface it was a good look as there’s no denying Em’s popularity. He’s now seen as an OG of sorts who has finally returned to the scene after being away for a couple of years recovering from a series of life altering mishaps.

We all know about the tragic night club shooting of his best friend Proof (Detroit’s un-official mayor ) a few years back. We also know that Eminem almost overdosed and had been hooked on drugs. According to him he’s been 2 years sober. Like it or not when polled Eminem’s name frequents cracks the top 5 in one Hip Hop’s greatest rapper ever.  His delivery, controversial subject matter and clever word play has earned him his respect. However, what caught people’s attention during the 60 Minutes interview was his remarks around homophobic and misogynistic lyrics. When asked about them and the controversy that emerged here’s what Em is quoted as saying;

“I felt like I was being attacked. I was being singled out. I felt like, ‘Is it because of the color of my skin? Is it because of that you’re paying more attention?’ There are certain rappers that do and say the same things that I’m saying and I don’t hear no one say anything about that.”.

You can peep the full interview here..

Em’s remarks raised more than a few eyebrows and left us with a few things to think about. The name of the game as he well knows is when you’re trying to make noise to blow up a spot, unless you have a compelling story to tell or exemplary skill sets, the best way to bring attention to yourself or an issue is to kick up dust and cause controversy.

This is what Eminem did. He bursted on the scene 10 years ago causing controversy. It wasn’t just his shocking lyrics but also some of his on and off stage antics. For example, I recall on one of his early visits to the Bay he got into a heated exchange with a radio host on KALX (UC Berkeley’s radio station) who thought he was a bit rude and over the top. The host Sister Tamu wound up breaking his record on the air. Word of that incident spread quick.

A few months later (may 1999) while doing a concert at the Fillmore a fight broke out. Em attempted to quell things only to jump off the stage with crew in tow to pummel a heckler who he felt wasn’t showing the proper respect. What appeared to be an isolated incident was later revealed to be something that somewhat staged as similar incidents of Em jumping off the stage to confront hecklers occurred at other concerts including Las Vegas a few days later. Again controversy sells and Eminem early on was a spark plug for it…

It should come as no surprise that folks wishing to get a message across would not attach themselves to his missteps to get a message out. This has been a tried and true method used by organizations like PETA when it comes to animal abuse and obviously other organizations like GLAAD who went after Eminem to bring attention to homophobia. But with that being said, while Eminem has come under fire, he has never been economically blocked at least not in the ways we seen other artists who dared cross certain lines.

For example, take reggae artist Buju Banton.. Here’s a guy that recorded an over the top homophobic song back in 1988 when he was 15. The song  ‘Boom Bye Bye‘ was about the murdering  gay man and became a huge hit and an anthem of sorts. 20 years after this song was recorded folks never let up him. They protested, got his tours canceled. Folks have and continue to go all out on Buju.  Eminem.. yeah he got heat from GLAAD and other organizations, but his concerts were never cancelled even here in San Francisco where activist have shut down Buju everytime his name is even mentioned.

This has gone on even after Buju has gone on to do positive music and explained his immaturity and ignorance at 15. He is now considered a strong voice for Jamaica. The protests have gone on even after he was the first to set up program Willy to help prevent the spread HIV and AIDs in Jamaica. Prior to that using a condom was seen in a bad light the same way homosexuality was. Buju took those steps and has still been dogged.

Em still performed his over the top songs even after public apologies and a show of reconciliation with singer Elton John who is outspoken on Gay Rights. Em was still embraced even though he does many of those ‘offensive’ songs. In addition when Eminem is mentioned it’s rarely with the tag Anti-gay rapper vs Buju who is frequently cited in the press as Anti-gay singer.

Def Jeff

Now one may look at Buju and say his song was an anthem that sparked violence and hence deserved to be protested. Thats understandable on a number of levels so lets look at  a few other less egregious examples..  I recall back in the early 90s ago LA rapper Def Jeff coming to San Francisco to perform at Club Townsend. He attempted to try to get the crowd hyped  by first yelling ‘All the Ugly People Be Quiet’. When he got a luke warm response he then yelled ‘All the People who got Aids be Quiet‘. To put it simply, after he yelled those remarks it was a wrap.

Even though Def Jeff got a resounding response from the audience that night he soon found himself blacklisted by SF club owners. Many who heard about his remarks refused to book him. Years later, he admitted at that time, he was young and just ignorant to both the horrors of HIV and AIDs. He was also oblivious to the type of anger and scapegoating directed at the Gay community. At that time AIDs was more associated with white Gay males as opposed to folks in the inner city and Jeff was simply insensitive. He apologized, but to know avail. He hasn’t been in the Bay to perform since.

A few months prior to Def Jeff’s remarks, Turbo B the lead rapper for the group the Snap which had the mega hit song ‘The Power’, made some unsavory remarks about Gays and AIDs and caused a huge uproar. Turbo later apologized for his ignorance, but it was all but a wrap for him and his career pretty much went down the tubes from there. It didn’t help that the Snap had a large following in the Gay community. Folks weren’t gonna allow those anti-gay remarks to go.

Cypress Hill

Also around that time a more visible and publicized incident occurred with Cypress Hill who were performing at the Bill Graham Civic Center during the Soul Assassins Tour. The show featured House of Pain, Cypress Hill and a number of other acts. Someone in the opening act acting as hype man yelled out to the crowd ‘”All the fags in the House Be Quiet’. There was a loud response from all the straight males who of course responded to the call.

The next day, angry members of the Gay community reacted and targeted radio giant KMEL which gave away tickets for the show. Letters and phone calls came in and the end result was Cypress Hill was banned from airplay on the station. The group quickly issued a letter of apology, even though they weren’t onstage at the time. The logic from the Gay protestors was that they were responsible for the insensitivity of the acts they brought along with them, hence they needed to be banned. The Cypress Hill radio boycott lasted for almost a year. It wasn’t lifted until they actually wound up doing a syndicated Soul Assassin’s radio show on our station.

Now again let’s not get things twisted, anyone advocating for the beating, killing or even the discrimination of gays or any ethnic group is bad news. And folks on the receiving end of those insults and threats have every right and should express their anger and outrage. If that outrage includes protests and shutting folks down, so be it. All of us have a responsibility in being aware of boundaries that exists within certain communities.But bringing this back to Eminem, he was given huge passes and in many ways embraced. Em’s angry lyrics have more often than not been praised by publications like the UK Guardian and Spin Magazine for expressing and reflecting the angst and anger felt by many within the white working class.

So is Eminem a target for his homophobic and misogynist lyrics because he’s white? Hardly. It’s more likely that he’s a target because he’s enormously popular. I think many of these organizations learned that they can only go so far in bringing attention to these issues going after lesser known artists. Hence  as long as Eminem is in the spotlight he allows a light to be shined on these issues. Hence anything he says will be scrutinized for an opportunity to weigh in. The attacks on Eminem are not the same as the shut downs and demonization of entire groups of Black and Brown folks for anti-social ills.

When Def Jeff and Turbo B got clocked all of rap was called into question. When Buju Banton was called all of Jamaica and its culture was called into question. When Em was called out it began and stopped with him. We didn’t make the connection with Eminem being a white man born in the US who may be part of and ultimately influenced by a culture that includes everyone from conservative politicians to overzealous Evangelists who routinely bash the gay community. Bottomline in spite of his hard upbringing there are major institutions in this country that have afforded Eminem a few priviledges he himself might not recognize and certainly didn’t acknowledge during his interview

something to consider

-Davey D-

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The Phony, Corporate Sponsored Disruptions & Outbursts of Kanye West & Joe Wilson



DaveyD-leather-225Lemme  cut to the chase, Kanye West is phony as was his contrived outburst when he rushed the stage to disrupt an acceptance speech from country singer Taylor Swift, during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. It was a perfectly executed stunt which was designed to make national headlines (which it did). It was designed to become among the top trending topics in twitter and one of the hot key words in google (which it is). It was obviously designed to take away attention from issues at hand as Kanye’s outburst overshadowed many of the performances and presenters including the Michael Jackson tribute.

Like it or not in 2009, notoriety works and unchecked disruptions, outbursts and controversial statements and gestures are the order of the day especially if you need to do a little bit of ‘social engineering’.  Kanye rushing the stage at the VMAs was no different than the idiot congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during his speech the other night. It was no different then last month’s so called ‘spontaneous’  shouting matches and YouTube ready disruptions during Democratic sponsored healthcare townhall meetings around the country.

Did congressman Joe Wilson's outburst orchestrated?

Did congressman Joe Wilson's outburst orchestrated?

The end results are all the same. People are still talking about Joe Wilson and more importantly his opposition to Obama’s Healthcare plans. It created a huge windfall of donations to the tune of 1 million dollars for his re-election campaign. Lastly, this once obscure congressman is now a national figure and a household name who is seen as a hero in many circles. His notoriety and 15 minutes of fame has gotten him a platform to voice his espouse his opinions and political philosophy.

 The disruptions during the healthcare townhalls were obvious game changers. First, it put the Democrats on the defense and allowed a vastly outnumbered Republican party that was in disarray to gain momentum and popularity. It also emboldened a number of people including staunch racists who were frustrated and angry to let loose and grab a seat at the proverbial table.

Kanye West has been getting kinda phony lately

Kanye West has been getting kinda phony lately

In the case of Kanye West, people are obviously talking about him and inevitably whatever projects he’s pushing. In a crumbling music industry where personality and branding is whats being sold more than music, the attention Kanye received is extremely valuable. The free publicity is worth millions.

But all this is just part of the story in terms of who benefits. Whether we’re talking about Joe Wilson or Kanye West, they are small cogs on the totem pole. There are larger and more powerful beneficiaries. It could be Health Insurance, leadership in the GOP,  Kanye’s record label and MTV/Viacom. The 64 thousand dollar question is what hand did these larger institutions have in these controversies.

Did GOP leaders plan to have Wilson act out during the president’s speech as a strategy to take some shine away and minimize Obama’s persuasive oratory skills?  To me, its more than obvious they did.  No one seems to be to upset with  Wilson.  Thus far I’m not hearing about Wilson being removed from any committees. He already said he’s not gonna apologize a second time and it’s not like President Obama is gonna run up and punch him in the face for being disrespectful.  In short there’s been no penalty for Wilson breaking the rules as his party has pretty much circled the wagons  around him. Wilson and his GOP buddies are relishing in the fact that they were able to reaffirm and in many ways re-established their position as scrappy fighters who are down for the cause of the blue collar man compared to the ‘whimpy’ Democrat. 

Cartoon-FreedomWorks-PartyIn the case of the townhall disruptions, we already know that many of these ‘grassroots’ , ‘spontaneous’ gatherings were actually orchestrated and seeded by lobbyists and corporations with the main groups being Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Expensive PR firms were hired and a strategy was developed  instructing people how to systematically disrupt townhalls. This included, spreading out amongst the crowd to give the appearance as being larger in numbers, rattling the sensibilities of a congressperson early on by shouting and aggressively challenging him/her  and just generally being disruptive so that what got reported on the evening news was people shouting down the congressperson and not the finer points of healthcare.

Anyone who has ever done commercial radio and been in a ratings war, much of these ‘political’ disruptions are text book. Early on we learned the important lesson of controversy sells. We’ve learned the importance of staging ‘spontaneous’ activities including cheering, hissing and booing  in such away that the people around you would catch on and join in. ‘That’s all classic social engineering tactics. We learned how to show up at our competitions events and concerts, give up t-shirts, bumper stickers and signs and create the illusions that we were somehow apart of what was deemed exclusively theirs.

This brings us full circle back to Kanye West rushing the stage.  because we’ve been inundated with crass disruptive behavior at political events, many of us forgot that this is a hallmark of the music industry. Creating illusions and smoke and mirrors is what we specialize in. Was Kanye’s antics sanctioned and planned by executives at MTV?   LOL, last night’s Kanye moment was about as real as the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction several years ago.  It was about as real and unscripted as an episode of MTV’s Real World.  or even better last night’s Kanye outburst was about as real as the battle for record sales between him and 50 cent two years ago.

Long before Kanye, the late ODB was known for bumrushing stages during award shows. At least ODB said he was doing it for the kids

Long before Kanye, the late ODB was known for bumrushing stages during award shows. At least ODB said he was doing it for the kids

This should be more than obvious.  By the end of the show MTV had a graph in place to show how Kanye’s disruption was the thing everyone was talking about on twitter? Plus, is Kanye being banned from any radio play? No. Will he be back at the next MTV event or is he banned for life? Hell naw. Will MTV keep showing the clip of Kanye rushing the stage? Hell yeah. This is not the first time he’s acted a fool at these type of events and he’s always invited back. Kanye is playing the role of the late Ole Dirty Bastard who was known for having a number of spontaneous outbursts including rushing the stage during the Grammys, that became seared in our collective memories over the years. 

 Me personally, I knew Kanye was phony balony when he rushed the stage and proclaimed Beyonce should’ve won without being nervous. That was the scripted Kanye we saw last night. The unscripted Kanye was the one we saw during the Katrina telethon when he said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. But lets not digress.

Look the bottomline  is everyone was in on it. Hell I’m beginning to even think Taylor Swift and Beyonce went along for the ride and had scripted out roles with Beyonce being the gracious sheroe and Smith being the poor victim we all rallied around. No matter the case, scripted or not it all seems to have worked out. Remember this is the same MTV who  just a few months ago had us all looking on in shock as Eminem shed his bad boy image to go along with promotional stunt  concocted by actor Sacha Barron Cohen dressed in character as Bruno.  People were led to believe that Cohen ‘had an accident with his stunt cables and somehow landed  in such a way that his ass and nutsack was in Em’s face as he attempted to untangle himself.  An enraged Eminem stormed out the building only to have it later revealed it was a stunt he was in on and even rehearsed it.

I guess the bigger and more somber picture to all this is how we are constantly being manipulated. It may start somewhat harmlessly with Kanye West-like stunts at MTV but then it  leads up to ‘staged’ outburst by ‘upset’  lawmakers during a Presidential speech. All of it corporate sponsored and all of this is part of a larger pattern to dumb down the masses and keep a population ill-informed.  In the business we call it learned behavior and it allows for people to be easily duped and eventually pimped.

Something to ponder

-Davey D-

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Gays,Hip Hop, Violence, Murder,Bloggers-WillI am & Eminiem



This whole situation involving Will Iam and gossip columnist Perez Hilton speaks to a larger issue at hand. It speaks to the oftentimes tumultuous relationship between entertainers and press (papparazi), that is now complicated by press either seeking to be or already as large and famous as the people they cover. Complicating this even more is that the writers  are oftentimes famous because they’ve made careers out of clowning or dissing these entertainers. A lot of artists resent people getting famous by riding their coat tails.

Some people say well thats the price of fame. You have to take it  and learn to deal with it. Increasingly more and more writers feel like this is their way in the door. They look for a newsworthy icon  and then do the ‘unthinkable’ which is diss them. The more outrageous the dis the more attention paid to the blogger/writer. I can’t really say if its fair or unfair, but it puts people on a collision course where what happened to Hilton becomes the norm and not the aberration.

I recently had a conversation with a blogger who tried to explain to me that its important that he ‘critiques’ artists. He said there’s an art in critiquing and that its important that the public knows whether or not an album is wack or dope.  It didn’t matter to this writer that wackness and dopeness are subjective and that a harsh critique sometimes impacts more than just an artist. This writer was pretty resolute. He was gonna be dissing artists if he felt they deserved to be dissed and that was that..

I ended the conversation by noting the irony of him being backstage wearing a laminate, eating food in an artists dressing room and for the most part being part of the entourage. I noted its not the same as if he went out, brought the album, paid the ticket price for the show, hung out with the audience and not backstage where he could really gage whether or not that artist connects with his fan..

Today the terrain is such that if you are in the spotlight, there is a multi-million dollar industry that will quickly attach itself  to you and ride straight to the bank.. Perez going after the Black Eyed Peas is one of those people. Probably figured they were easy targets. Funny how not too long ago Hilton was publicly apologizing to NORE after he dissed him and got stepped to. Funny  how you rarely see him go after someone like Suge or anyone else who clock him and keep it moving.. 

The way things are going its just a matter of time before someone gets killed around all this, especially when you take into account some of these paparrazi agencies now employ gang bangers to do their dirt digging..

-Davey D-

Gays,Hip Hop, Violence, Murder,Bloggers-WillI am & Eminiem

Will I am claims he came to Perez Hilton in respect and was called a faggot. Why would Perez use a slur that he personally finds demeaning and deragotory?

Will I am claims he came to Perez Hilton in respect and was called a faggot. Why would Perez use a slur that he personally finds demeaning and deragotory?

In Toronto — Police have charged the tour manager of the Black Eyed Peas with assault after he allegedly punched celebrity blogger Perez Hilton outside a Toronto nightclub. Hilton said he got into an argument with band members Fergie and at the Cobra nightclub early Monday morning and was punched outside by Polo Molina, the band’s tour manager. They were at the club following a Sunday night video awards show.

Molina turned himself in and has been charged with assaulting Hilton, Toronto Police Constable Tony Vella said. Molina is due in court Aug. 5.

Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, complained about the incident on the microblogging site Twitter. He tweeted at 4 a.m.: “I am bleeding. Please, I need to file a police report. No joke.”

Hilton, who is openly gay, said in interview with The Associated Press that he called a “faggot,” a gay slur, inside the club after the musician told the blogger not to write about his band on his Web site.

“He was like ‘You need to respect me.’ He was in my face. He was obviously trying to intimidate me and scare me,” Hilton said. “I was like ‘I don’t need to respect you. I don’t respect you and I did say this, and I knew that it would be the worst thing I could possibly say to him because he was acting the way he was. I said ‘You know what, I don’t respect you and you’re gay and stop being such a faggot.’” said in a video posting on that he came to Hilton with respect and was called a “faggot.”

Hilton, who was at the club with Lady Gaga, said he then left the club and was punched from behind. The pop stars and the blogger were among celebrities in Toronto for the MuchMusic Video Awards on Sunday night.

A spokeswoman for the Black Eyed Peas declined comment.

Michael Miller Family

Michael Miller Family

In other gay type rap new Eminiem – nah just kidding. We think
is the focal point of a disturbing story out of Arizona: a 29-year-old man has told police that he sang Eminem songs while fatally stabbing his wife and daughter, KSAZ-TV reports. His 4-year-old son survived the attack, despite being stabbed 11 times. According to police, the man, Michael Miller, said he was possessed and believed that his wife was a demon.

More chilling details:
Just before stabbing her at 4 a.m., he told police he started screaming lyrics from an Eminem song, saying, “Here comes Satan, I’m the anti-Christ, I’m going to kill you.”

Miller admitted to police that when the kids awoke to their mother’s screams, he stabbed them too. He said he stabbed his son Brian the most because he loved him the most.

Then he rolled a cigarette, said another prayer, and called 911, police say


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D12 Rapper Proof killed in shooting at afterhours nightclub



D12 rapper Proof killed in shooting at afterhours nightclub

An unidentified 35-year-old man, who was shot along with Proof, is in critical condition at Detroit’s St. John Hospital. Police were called to the shootings around 5 a.m, following reports of a fight and shots fired.

original article-April 11 2006 
proof-d12-75Rapper Proof of the hip-hop group D12 was shot and killed this morning at an illegal afterhours club on Eight Mile, police said. Proof, whose real name is Deshaun Holton, was dead on arrival at Conner Creek Medical Center in Detroit, according to a spokeswoman for St. John Health System. He was 32.
Proof was among the most pivotal players on the Detroit hip-hop scene, and revered as one of the best freestyle MCs in the city. He befriended Eminem long before he was a houshold name, and was a nearly constant presence as the rapper rose to superstardom. He toured with Eminem as his on-stage hype man, was a member of his group D12, had a bit role in the “8 Mile” movie and served as the best man at his wedding in January.



The club where it occurred is called 3C, and it’s at 8 Mile near Hayes. The club isn’t illegal but it was operating illegally after hours.

This is the second shooting involving Eminem’s entourage in three months.

Another Eminem pal and rapper Obie Trice was shot and wounded New Year’s Eve while driving along the Lodge Freeway.

Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to call Detroit Police at 313-596-2260.

 Positive Proof: Longtime Eminem collaborator upbeat as he prepares for the release of his first solo album

April 11, 2006


Proof (Mario “”Khalif” Butterfield/Iron Fist Records)
Originally published August 7, 2005

Detroit rapper Proof could have unveiled his first solo album ages ago. But a few distractions sort of, you know, popped up.

That’s bound to happen when you’re tight with the guy who becomes the biggest star in hip-hop, when that momentum carries your own group to the top of the charts, when you spend your time onstage in sold-out stadiums, on the world’s movie screens, on the cover of Rolling Stone.

But even as Proof found himself caught up in the hysteria generated by his close friend Eminem and their group D12, the rapper born DeShaun Holton kept the concept percolating in the back of his brain: a hip-hop record that would evoke the spirit — if not exactly the sound — of a rock ‘n’ roll legend.

The result is finally at hand. On Tuesday, Proof will release “Searching for Jerry Garcia,” a 20-track album more than three years in the making. It’s not just his solo debut; the record also marks the inaugural release for his Iron Fist Records, the label with which Proof hopes to do his part for Detroit’s ongoing musical resurgence.

Proof will toast the album’s release Friday at the State Theatre, soon after the festivities wrap up across the street at Comerica Park, where he’ll accompany Eminem, D12, 50 Cent and 40,000 hometown fans for the U.S. finale of the Anger Management Tour. He’ll be joined at the State by G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, and premiere the glitzy video for his record’s first single, “Gurls Wit Da Boom.

These are heady days for Proof, whose album arrives as D12’s members begin branching out in anticipation of a career shift by Marshall Mathers. But before he’ll even talk about the music of “Garcia,” Proof acknowledges the obvious: “People hear the title,” he says, “and wonder what in the world I’m talking about.”

Among the puzzled were the administrators of Jerry Garcia’s estate, who insisted Proof obtain permission to use the name of the late Grateful Dead guitarist, a moniker that has long evoked instant images of ’60s hippie culture.

But while Proof is a well-versed fan of rock, including the Dead’s rootsy folk and blues, his album isn’t some interstellar merger of rap and tie-dyed San Fran jam. The title actually reflects a more personal quest, one that began during the height of D12 mania, when the lightning-tongued MC found himself plagued by “stress, a bad diet and drugs.”

Proof says he found resonance in the story of Garcia, who endured similar struggles while continually seeking catharsis in an eclectic musical approach.

“It’s about coming back, finding the way,” he says. “I think there’s some Jerry Garcia in all of us.”

Proof has been getting himself to this point for quite some time.
These days, even casual followers of hip-hop are well acquainted with his face and voice. For six years, he’s been Eminem’s prime companion onstage, a seemingly constant presence at the side of his fellow Detroit rapper. With D12, he’s become an MTV and radio celebrity via such hits as “Purple Pills” and “My Band.”

But around Detroit, Proof was the preeminent figure in hip-hop years before the Eminem explosion tacked the city’s name onto the national rap map. If you weren’t there in person during the mid-’90s — inside the Hip Hop Shop, for instance, where he hosted Detroit’s top rap battles — you can just rent the movie “8 Mile.”

There you’ll find him embodied in the character played by Mekhi Phifer, who tapped Proof’s cool-but-in-control persona for a role based on the rapper’s position as Detroit hip-hop ringleader.

“He was one of the hardest-working MCs in the city,” says Khalid el-Hakim, Iron Fist’s vice president and a veteran of the Detroit scene. “He was a master of self-promotion. Early on, he was appearing on everybody’s projects, and a lot of people really looked up to Proof. He still has that same work ethic. He doesn’t stop.”

As Eminem himself has said, Proof was instrumental in carving out a place in the scene for the aspiring rapper. Without the assist, Marshall Mathers might never have made it onto local stages, let alone become one of the world’s most familiar celebrities.

“He legitimized Em in the Detroit hip-hop community,” says el-Hakim. “I think most people weren’t feeling a white MC at that time. Proof was pushing him because he heard something there. He had his back.”

Proof, who would go on to win Source Magazine’s national rap battle in 1999, was known as the city’s top freestyler, a gifted improviser with a biting wit. The vote of confidence went a long way — and returned big dividends when Proof got taken along for the Slim Shady ride.

After Eminem’s launch into the hip-hop stratosphere, Proof channeled most of his rhymes into D12’s material, his relaxed but rough-edged flow a distinct trait of the group’s work. Through it all, he made sure to save some for himself, steadily accumulating the songs that would ultimately make up “Garcia.”

It’s a whirl of creative enterprise that Proof long ago learned how to navigate.

“I try not to compare any of it at all,” Proof says. “My D12 deal is my D12 deal, the Em stuff is the Em stuff, my solo deal is my solo deal. You’ve gotta try to do something extra with each one.”

Production began on the record in 2002, with release planned for the following spring. But all was placed on hiatus after a series of what Proof describes as business hardships and the record industry’s “Jedi mind tricks,” including a botched distribution deal and personnel turnover within his own camp.

When he returned to the project last year, he replaced half the album with new cuts. It was a savvy move: “Garcia” now showcases the services of guests such as 50 Cent, Nate Dogg and Obie Trice, along with a full-on D12 collaboration — including you-know-who — on “Pimplikeness.” El-Hakim says the album has garnered more than 200,000 advance orders through Alliance Distribution, one of the nation’s biggest music wholesalers and Iron Fist’s link to the big leagues.

“Gurls Wit Da Boom,” a slinky club track that would fit comfortably on an MTV summer playlist, is something of an anomaly. Most of the “Garcia” tracks — many built on live instrumentation — find Proof tapping and tweaking a host of styles. Songs like the opening “Clap Wit Me” and “Bilboa’s Theme” evoke the jazzy funk of his Detroit compatriates in Slum Village. “Forgive Me” (with 50 Cent) and “72nd and Central” (with Obie Trice) groove atop the strings, harpsichords and minor keys of the darker Shady sound. “High Rollers,” with Method Man and B. Real, takes a toke off Kanye West-style soul.

That’s the same sort of diversity Proof says he’ll bring to Iron Fist, where he’s working with acts ranging from Detroit hip-hop ensemble Purple Gang to vocalist Stephanie Christian of rock band JoCaine.

“I don’t want to be just another rapper putting out rap acts, and I’m looking for a lot of different talent,” he says. “This is the rock city.”

Whatever the fate of the new record — which will likely enjoy underground success even if it doesn’t break mainstream — Proof and his associates are pleased that he’s at last getting his own say.

“Proof has taken this album back to his Detroit hip-hop roots, but at the same time, he’s drawing on his experiences from around the world,” says el-Hakim. “He’s invested a lot of time and effort into making this happen, because this is his chance to let the world know who he really is.”

 Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Did the Beastie Boys Dis Eminem?


Beastie Boys Dis Eminem
Posted by Robert
Rap News Direct Staff
5/7/2004 6:37:50 PM

It’s clear that almost anything can set Eminem’s short fuse ablaze
and cause the rapper to retaliate in his music. Once reserved for
serious feuds in underground hip-hop, Slim Shady has carried the
tradition of on-record dissing with him into the pop world, leaving
artists (most of whom can’t rhyme their reply) confused by severe
insults hurled their way over petty squabbles or small
misunderstandings with the rapper. To date, so many high-profile
artists and celebrities have been dissed by Em that they could get
together and record a “We Are The World”-style benefit song for
themselves. Over the last five years Moby, Christina Aguilera,
Jermaine Dupri, *NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick, Everlast, Britney
Spears, Benzino, Pet Shop Boys, Canibus, Limp Bizkit, Dilated
Peoples, Pamela Lee (twice), P. Diddy, Insane Clown Posse, Norah
Jones, Ja Rule and Christopher Reeve (three times) have all found
themselves on Eminem’s lyrical @#%$ list.

So as Shady nears the end of the recording process of his fourth LP,
one has to wonder — who will he dis next? The Olsen Twins? Big Boi
from Outkast? Christopher Reeve, just for something new? For those
placing bets with their friends, Chart may be able to give you a hot
tip on three potential candidates for Eminem’s next dis campaign:
the Beastie Boys.

We caught up with Beastie Boys last week in New York City. The night
before, they appeared on MTV premiering a clip of their ridiculous
new video for “Ch-Check It Out,” the first single from their long-
anticipated sixth album To The 5 Boroughs, set for release in mid-
June. Later that night, Eminem and his band D12 also performed.
Somewhere during the evening, Em stopped by the Beastie Boys’
dressing room to show respect to the white rappers who paved the way
for him. There was a mix-up, which, for the Beastie Boys, could turn
out to be deadly.

“It was actually funny, `cause there was a little misunderstanding
when he came to the dressing room,” explains the group’s MCA (a.k.a.
Adam Yauch). “Because we’d been joking around, saying that we should
have called our album Still Doin’ It, Huh? and we kept on saying
that. And so, when Eminem came into our dressing room, he was
like, `Yo, what’s up, just wanted to say what’s up to everybody‚’
and we shook his hand and stuff. And then he said to us,
like, `Still doin’ it, man, still doin’ it.’ And we all just burst
out laughing. He kind of looked puzzled and walked out.”

“Nah, I don’t think he… it wasn’t that big of a deal,” says Mike D
(a.k.a. Mike Diamond).

“I wonder if he told his group,” MCA ponders.

“He must have a sense of humour…” Diamond speculates.

Marshall, if you’re reading this, before you go record an album’s
worth of anti-Beastie Boys songs, please know that it was just a
misunderstanding. Nothing more. Beastie Boys respect you. Really.

Says Mike D, “He definitely has his own way — the way he switches
his flows up. Very versatile MC.”

The Source Magazine, Eminem, Hip Hop and Race

Here’s an interesting article dealing w/ growing skepticism of the Source magazine, Hip Hop and Race..



It was a press conference called by a high-profile congresswoman, the founder of a magazine once considered “the Bible of hip-hop” and a respected Los Angeles community activist. The goal: to tackle issues of racism in the music industry and to announce a plan “to reclaim ownership of hip-hop for the African American community.”

On the podium in Beverly Hills on Friday were Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Source magazine founder David Mays and activist Aqueela Sherills, who helped broker a 1992 truce between rival gangs in Watts. Presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton even put in a surprise appearance.

The participants decried what they characterized as a deliberate effort by the music industry “to redefine and repackage hip-hop for mainstream America” and outlined plans for a national peace campaign with a series of hip-hop festivals aimed at reinfusing money generated by rap music back into communities where it was born.

But there was also an elephant in the room, one that all on hand did their best to ignore: the ongoing feud between the Source and the world’s most popular rapper, Eminem, who is white.

Following a presentation that ran more than an hour, Mays, who is also white, called for questions from the press, but the Q&A session wrapped in less than five minutes. There were barely half a dozen reporters in the 150-seat ballroom.

The light turnout appeared to reflect increasing media skepticism toward the Source since the publication launched a series of attacks last year against Eminem.

Just as the magazine has assailed his character and integrity in the world of hip-hop, the mainstream press has been asking the same things about the Source. In its Jan. 12 issue, Time magazine writes that “outrage has boomeranged on the questionable journalistic judgment of Mays and the Source.”

The public skirmish began in the Source’s February 2003 issue, which included an article critical of Eminem and an illustration of rapper Benzino holding the Detroit rapper’s severed head. Benzino, whose real name is Raymond Scott, is Mays’ business partner.

The attacks escalate in the Source’s February issue, which hit stands last week — with Eminem on the cover. Several articles again paint him as a racist and a culture thief, a white kid who has profited enormously, and unfairly, from an art form created by blacks.

The magazine comes with a CD containing excerpts of a tape Eminem made at least a decade ago in which he denigrated black women.

The Source, which made the tape public in November, argues that the comments refute Eminem’s long-espoused position that he respects the black culture that gave birth to rap and fueled his career.

Eminem issued a short statement at the time apologizing, saying it was “something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager.”

The Source frames its questions about Eminem as symbolic of a pervasive racism threatening hip-hop music today, a problem Friday’s press conference tried to address.

“That debate [over Eminem] is necessary to force the discussion to the next level,” Mays said after the conference. “There’s no question Eminem is a powerful force. As a leader, he has a tremendous influence…. As painful as it might be, we’ve got to deal with the issue of racism.”

Yet many in the music press view the situation simply as mudslinging by Benzino and Mays.



Benzino’s role at the Source has been a point of contention before, prompting wholesale resignations of its editorial staff twice when the rapper, described by Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau as “an obvious second- or fourth-rater,” received glowing coverage in the magazine of which he’s “co-founder and chief brand executive.” The February issue has a cover reference to more Benzino coverage.

“There are issues worth debating about Eminem’s rise — the rise of a white figure to the top of the hip-hop game — and how it reflects racial attitudes in America,” says Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender magazine, which covers rock, pop and hip-hop. “Unfortunately, the Source may not be the best-qualified magazine to lay those out.”

The Source’s discussion of racism and hip-hop, says Chuck Eddy, music editor at the Village Voice, is “completely colored by the feud” between the magazine and the rapper. “We haven’t done a piece on it, and we don’t plan to.”

The magazine’s new issue also charges Eminem, who has been widely embraced not only by Anglos but by black, Latino and Asian fans and other hip-hop artists, with using phrases derogatory to all African Americans. These are based on comments from a former associate, and this time the magazine has offered no audio clips as proof.

“We don’t have any further response to the Source,” a spokesman for Interscope Records, Eminem’s label, said last week. “We’re out of business with them.” Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, gave an exclusive interview to XXL magazine, the Source’s chief competitor, which will appear in its March issue, arriving on newsstands next month.

“I don’t think anyone around me is questioning where my heart is at,” he tells XXL, which once attacked his credibility because he is white. “I know what I do is black music. I know how it started, I know where it came from. But instead of trying to solely capitalize off it, I’ve been able to get in a position where I’m able to help other people.”

Editor in chief Elliott Wilson said XXL let Eminem address its rival’s questions about his racial attitudes because “despite the fact that you may not be able to trust the messenger [the Source], if an African American kid who’s an Eminem fan has heard that he used the N-word, he deserves answers.”

Dave Mays

Dave Mays

On Friday, some participants tried to draw a line between the Eminem debate and the discussion of ways to incorporate hip-hop music and performers into a broad campaign to reduce violence in inner cities and to channel the music’s economic power toward the improvement of those communities.

Mays pondered the question of whether the Source’s focus on Eminem might undermine efforts to promote meaningful debate on the wider issue of who deserves to reap the rewards of hip-hop’s transformation from a street art form to an international cultural phenomenon.

“He’s up there. He’s the tool being used by the corporations,” Mays said.

As to whether targeting Eminem will do more harm than good in the long run, “that,” Mays said, “remains to be seen.”

Randy Lewis, Times Staff Writer