Proof positive (Real Detroit Weekly article)

Detroit’s Hip-Hop Mayor Sets The Game Week Agenda

Saturday afternoon in the city — the sun is shining and the weather unseasonably warm for mid-January. Proof is running late for his Real D photo shoot and interview. He finally calls, but from inside Elysium Lounge … across the street. “What? Oh.” Minutes later he and his crew enter “The Vault.” Detroit is officially hot with the auto show now in park and Super Bowl XL finally revving up. Nobody cares what time we get started working or how long it will take. It’s a brand new day in The D. “Detroit, I love this city man,” Proof says. “When I was driving downtown, I am just looking all around — there are kids on the ice skating rink, right there is a Hard Rock Café. You all have seen it; all this stuff wasn’t here — that big-ass new Compuware building — it’s phenomenal to me. I saw how dead that Woodward strip right there used to be. Now it’s back alive. It’s crazy.”

Something Proof knows about is crazy. Just last week he was Eminem’s best man. His group, D12, are multi-platinum Motor City giants signed to the biggest rap label in the world. His latest record, Searching for Jerry Garcia, is an independent breakout released through Iron Fist Records — his label. “I just came back from overseas,” Proof says. “… Going to Australia in a little bit — and I got another European tour coming up in April. The record is really starting to pick up, but what’s so crazy isn’t that — it’s that I’m doing all this independently, working right here from the office downtown, right here from The D.”

The uncontested hip-hop mayor from Detroit sits down and stumps. A city with such an infamous reputation, Proof’s skeptical eye sparkles with a glimmer of new hope. “Hate is one thing that is irreplaceable … If you got rid of the hate, think about it, you really wouldn’t know what the love is,” Proof professes. “I am not going to say that everything is necessarily done right or put in the media right. I am a fan of the movie Wag the Dog and some of the things I see do seem a little not right, but I don’t care about anyone’s personal life or what they’re doing — the totality for me is the city looking good, and the city looks great to me right now. You know what? At this point the city is looking as great as the city has ever looked. Is Kwame [Kilpatrick] really that bad? I look at Detroit now and I’m like ‘Wow.’”

For Deshaun Holton aka Derty Harry aka Proof it usually takes a lot to make him say “wow” considering he can be running around the Playboy Mansion (“Hef’s got a fucking zoo.”), partying with Paris Hilton and Tara Reid in Puerto Rico (“Those girls are great.”) or misplacing a very important tuxedo after a pretty big wedding (“I just got yelled at.”) But beyond the jokes, underneath the characters, behind the image — is an artist. An award-winning freestyle lyricist who can be a hype man, front man and good man simultaneously. “I fell in love with hip-hop a long time ago and I never cheated on it. It’s been a great relationship,” Proof says. “I don’t know what else I’d do — if they just erased hip-hop off the map, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have any direction. I’d be just walking around aimlessly swearing … ‘Shit. Fuck.’”

No need for directionless obscenities as his dedication to the scene, his understanding of the craft and his natural creativity stand out strong on his solo joint Searching For …. Proof’s proper debut is an ambitious effort that summons the truest spirits of hip-hop, R&B and classic soul music (of course there’s that sly sense of humor and many ironic twists). Filled with a combination of production styles and musicians, some of the game’s finest including 50 Cent, Obie Trice, D12, Nate Dogg, B-Real, Method Man, Slum Village’s T3, Emile, Nick Speed, B.R. Gunna, Jewels, Salam Wreck and others helped fulfill Proof’s vision. “The record is something that a lot of people really wouldn’t expect. Something many people don’t know is that when it came out — it was pushed back a little bit — but a coincidence had it coming out on the anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death, August 9.”

Searching For … marks a major moment in Detroit’s hip-hop history. Big Proof: CEO, running his business and the demand is high. The supply is right up there too. “To run an international business, and to be hands on — that’s when you graduate in the game,” Proof says. “I can probably rap forever, but won’t. There are no rapping Rolling Stones. It’s not going to happen and won’t ever happen; it can’t. Don’t even try it. Hip-hop comes from the streets; it’s edgy like punk rock is. If you’re not on the streets with it, you’re not going to be in tune,” Proof says. “Now’s the time when I’m working to help my Iron Fist labelmates Purple Gang, Supa MC, Woof Pac and new addition J-Hill graduate to that level.” | RDW

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