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R.I.P. Big Proof: The Heart of the City

Four years ago today (April 11), Detroit rap legend Proof was shot to death outside a nightclub in his hometown following a dispute with another patron. Born DeShaun Holton, he was a major force in the local hip-hop scene, as the longtime host of the D’s famed Hip-Hop Shop battles. In fact, Mekhi Phifer’s portrayal of Future in 8 Mile was based on Proof, who also had a cameo in the film.

An accomplished rapper in his own right, Proof broke into the mainstream as part of hip-hop super group D12, which consisted of Kon Artist, Bizarre, Swift, Kuniva and best friend Eminem. As one of the people who knew him best, Bizarre shares his fondest memories of the fallen rap star and why Proof will always have the last laugh.

When I initially heard about Proof’s passing it was very shocking. I didn’t want to believe it. It hit me hard. I just got in my car and drove around, trying to put it all together, and just take it all in.

Proof is Detroit hip-hop. Period. His legacy is his kids and the impact he left on the culture… Proof is a giant in Detroit, man. He left behind some very big shoes to fill, so we’re constantly dealing with his lost, and taking it head on. He is still missed to this day.

If he was alive it’d be funny to see him interact with these new guys in the game. His pranks were legendary. Anybody could get it at any time. Honestly, we pranked reporters more than anybody else. We’d do stupid stuff like answer the door and be naked. We got away with a lot overseas.

Proof was always a jokester but through it all he took me under his wing. He really let me explore. He would always make sure that I was straight. Didn’t matter what it was. He’d make sure that I had money in my pocket and always kept a funny line in the pocket. I was a young guy, so you know, I really want to take this time out to thank him for his knowledge. He always had a lot of quotes and wise stuff he’d always say…

I’d also like to thank our fans and audience for continuing to keep an ear out for us out of the D. Proof and a couple of other cats have set the standard here and we’re pushing that. New York has their way of doing [hip-hop], but we’ve created our Detroit movement to be reflective of what goes on here. They started it and laid the path for us all, but those guys in the D have laid the path for us and theirs is the blueprint that we’ve chosen to follow.

D12’s future is dead set on keep pushing. Kuniva has a mixtape that’s coming out soon, my album is finished, and we’re all going to head back into the studio after this tour to work on a new album. Right now it’s really about keeping the [D12] name and Proof’s legacy going and just stay pushing. —As told to Kevin L. Clark

R.I.P. DeShaun “Proof” Holton: October 2, 1975 – April 11, 2006

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