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, Devils Night, the motor city wild boys
are on a mission to define themselves in the hectic canon of new-school
"In D-12 World, anything can happen at any time," Kuniva
laughs. "Devils Night was just an introduction, now
its 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, Devils Night established D12 as one of the super
groups of the new millennium, with its chart-topping singles
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
Malones Hip-Hop Shop, everybody had a crew. So, we decided
to form our own. Thats 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 Detroits 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 hell say shit that
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 Eminems 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
Prior to teaming-up in front of a mic, the two worked together
at a local pizza joint, called Gilberts Lounge.
"He helps to bring stuff out of us. With him, no matter
what happens, its always been about real friendship,"
However, the path to success wasnt without tragedy, as
one friend and group member who wouldnt 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, youd understand how much he meant to the group."
In an odd coincidence, Proofs son was born the same day
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 Devils Night will hear
a lot of growth on our new joint," Kon Artis says. "For
the past two years all weve 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 were
all dope MCs. Most rap on the radio right now is either popcorn
or gangsta, but were 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. Its 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, were
Im Gonna Get My Gun - "Thats 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...Im gonna get my gun! Its funny, but
its also real."
Ill Be Damned - "By definition, Detroit has
always been a funk town," Kon Artis explains. "On Ill
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