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D12 - In D-12 World, anything can happen at any time


Feature: Jack Foley

IN THE post-Motown landscape of Detroit, brothers rocking the mic are still being considered the voice of young America.

Hence, it is little wonder to find that instead of dreaming of blue skies and white picket fences, the unruly boys known as D12 have opted to mix the rowdiness and absurdities of their lives into one potent cocktail, for their latest album, D-12 World.

Two years after selling four million copies world-wide of their debut, Devil’s Night, the ‘motor city wild boys’ are on a mission to define themselves in the hectic canon of new-school hip-hop.

"In D-12 World, anything can happen at any time," Kuniva laughs. "Devil’s Night was just an introduction, now it’s time for us to really go crazy."

With a line-up that includes Eminem, Bizarre, Kon Artis, Swift, Kuniva and freestyle king, Proof, the D12 posse really needs to re-introductions, especially following the critical acclaim which greeted their debut.

Indeed, Devil’s Night established D12 as one of the super groups of the new millennium, with its chart-topping single’s Purple Pills and Fight Music.

And the refreshing thing, is that there is no one stand-out lead member, contrary to what the lyrics of their comedy new single, My Band, suggest.

"We all knew each other growing up in Detroit," Proof remembers. "I used to sneak ‘Em’ into my school lunchroom, just so he could battle.

"Later, when we started battling once a month at Maurice Malone’s Hip-Hop Shop, everybody had a crew. So, we decided to form our own. That’s how D12 was born. Before we even thought about making records, our only goal was to be like verbal ninjas and kick ass."

Although the Detroit hip-hop scene might not be on the scale of New York or Cali, those who are down take rap very seriously.

Having known each other since the days when they were rapping just to be heard, inside Detroit’s infamous Hip-Hop Shop (where Proof was also the host), these brothers have always had a special bond.

"We were the All-Star Team of battle rappers," Kuniva recalls. "And when somebody like Bizarre got in front of the mic, we never knew what he might say.

"Bizarre is wicked ‘cause he’ll say shit that others won’t."

And while the group may not have seemed like a priority, while each of the members worked on solo and side projects, it had always been intended to form the super-group at some point.

It was a dream that could be turned into a reality following the success of Eminem’s own solo success with Dr. Dre, when D12 finally got a chance to move beyond their neighbourhoods.

"Em was able to take D12 to the next level," Kon Artis says.

Prior to teaming-up in front of a mic, the two worked together at a local pizza joint, called Gilbert’s Lounge.

"He helps to bring stuff out of us. With him, no matter what happens, it’s always been about real friendship," he added.

Tragedy

However, the path to success wasn’t without tragedy, as one friend and group member who wouldn’t live to see D12 make it big was a young rapper, named Bugz.

Although he, too, was ‘down with the crew’, Bugz was killed shortly before D12 was signed to Shady Records.

"His last request was that we put Swift in the group," Proof says. "If you listen to our song, Good Die Young, on D-12 World, you’d understand how much he meant to the group."

In an odd coincidence, Proof’s son was born the same day Bugz died.

The memory of the young rapper continues to live on, and there is still time for reflection, even on the new album.

"Anyone who listened to the Devil’s Night will hear a lot of growth on our new joint," Kon Artis says. "For the past two years all we’ve done is tour and mature."

Bizarre concurs: "Although Eminem is the most prominent member of the crew, on this album the rest of D12 steps up and displays their skills. On D-12 World, you can clearly hear we’re all dope MCs. Most rap on the radio right now is either popcorn or gangsta, but we’re going for a new refreshing approach with our beats and lyrical content."

D12 on some of the highlights of the latest album

My Band - "The entire My Band track originated from a joke," Swift explains. "On the whole song, Em is just this dick lead singer who anoints us the cute one or the shy one. It’s just a goof directed at the media."

Git Up - Group member, Kon Artis, himself a noted producer, states: "Em created a track that is just pure adrenaline. We just went in the studio and tried to destroy whatever people might think about D12. Any backlash that Em has to deal with from the press, we go though together. D12 is more than a group, we’re brothers."

I’m Gonna Get My Gun - "That’s another one of those times we were just messing around in the studio," explains Bizarre. "One of the engineers said, ‘You ever been in a club, and see dudes get in a fight. One guy always gotta announce...I’m gonna get my gun!’ It’s funny, but it’s also real."

I’ll Be Damned - "By definition, Detroit has always been a funk town," Kon Artis explains. "On ‘I’ll Be Damned’, I was just coming with a funky George Clinton/Larry Graham vibe. To me, rap is boring right now and a great way to liven it up is to bring the funk."

Additional producers on D-12 World include: Hi-Tek, Night & Day, Red Spyda, and Sick Notes.

With the release of D-12 World, the crew claims to have created the perfect blueprint for all future groups to follow.

As Proof concludes: "Forget about the word real, D12 keeps it right."

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