April 11, 2006
Rapper Proof of the rap group D12, one of the key figures on the Detroit hip-hop scene, was shot and killed this morning at an after-hours 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 in Detroit hip-hop, and revered as one of the battle rappers in the city — the man who would handle anyone who dared to challenge him in a war of words. He befriended Eminem long before he was a houshold name, and was a nearly constant presence as the rapper rose to superstardom.
Proof was friends with many of the top Detroit hip-hop DJs, radio personalities, rappers and producers. A number of them were planning to gather with his family at the hospital this morning, including Eminem, Obie Trice and Marv Won from the Detroit group the Fat Killahz.
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. The club where the shooting occurred is called 3C, and it’s at 8 Mile near Hayes. The venue isn’t illegal but it was operating illegally after hours.
In the mid-’90s, Proof’s Saturday afternoons were spent hosting rap battles at the famed Hip Hop Shop on Seven Mile Rd., a role that would be fictionalized by actor Mekhi Phifer in 8 Mile, the Hollywood blockbuster film in which he Proof also played a bit part.
Proof was a steady hand for Detroit’s then up-and-coming hip-hop scene. It was his idea to assemble a collection of Detroit’s best hip-hop talent and call it D12; it was his hand that helped push Eminem to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars, including serving as his on-stage hype man on concert tours.
After the release of “8 Mile,” when battle rap was gaining newfound commerical exposure, Proof was hired to host a national search for the next best battle rapper by Showtime Networks.
In Detroit, he hosted Fight Club, a battle rap competition that would happen near his Iron Fist Records offices, which are located on Bagley in Detroit. There, Detroit hip-hop elite would gather and listen as up-and-comers on the hip-hop scene would verbally duke it out, looking to become as big as Proof, Eminem or other Detroit hip-hop comrades.
In January, he served as best man in Eminem’s wedding, giving a poignant toast about how it’s important to marry your best friend. D12 was scheduled to begin recording its third album this month.
This is the second shooting involving Eminem’s entourage in three months. 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.