Did life imitate art in rapper’s death?

first_imgDETROIT – The violent death of Detroit rapper Proof has hip-hop artists and fans asking whether rap produces violence or whether it’s simply a reflection of the dangers black men face in urban America. “Proof’s death is an example of the violence claiming the lives of a lot of young black men all over America, not just rappers,” said Mister Mann Frisby, 31, a Philadelphia-based author, who wrote a book about young black men in America. “For every rapper who gets shot and killed, there are 300 nameless young black men who die the same way.” Proof, 32, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, was an integral member of Detroit’s hip-hop community and superstar rapper Eminem’s right-hand man. He was gunned down around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday at the CCC nightclub on Eight Mile on Detroit’s east side. “I think it’s a Detroit thing, honestly,” Proof said, addressing Trice’s shooting. MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway said some people might question how smart it was for Proof to be hanging out in a club at such a late hour. But he said the issue is deeper than a hip-hop lifestyle leading to violence. “Hip-hop is a microcosm of society as a whole,” said Calloway in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “And especially in urban areas, we’re constantly trying to prove our bravado by brute force and by physical force, but we never think to tap into our intelligence to deal with conflict and confrontation.” Proof was best known as a battle rapper and a freestyle rapper, and his hosting gigs at Detroit’s famed Hip-Hop Shop in the mid-1990s helped lay the groundwork for what would eventually become the city’s celebrated hip-hop scene, immortalized on screen in 2002’s “8 Mile.” While hip-hop lyrics tend to deal with violence in graphic detail, its artists defend the content by saying they’re rapping about what they see day-to-day. Detroit rapper Hush said when he raps about violent themes his intention is to teach about violence, not glorify it. “The audience is supposed to take that and learn from it,” said the rapper, whose album “Bulletproof” was released last year. “But if some kid hears it, thinks it’s cool and decides to do it himself, it’s the total opposite of what it’s supposed to do.” Though D12 and Proof had their share of rivalries with various rap crews, Proof had worked recently to eliminate those beefs from his career. Proof recently jumped onstage in Arizona with L.A. rap crew Dialated Peoples as a sign that their one-time feud was over, and he also recorded a track with Insane Clown Posse proteges Twiztid, signaling the end of the long-standing feud between Eminem’s and ICP’s camps. Still, not all of his outstanding beefs were ended. Jerome Almon, executive producer of Detroit rap group Blakk Attakk, said he and his crew were not friendly with Proof and D12. “We don’t like each other, everybody knows that,” said Almon, 29. “But not in the terms where we are haters. We recognize that they made it.” More than falling victim to hip-hop’s violent tendencies, Almon said Proof is a casualty of the city. “You have to avoid Detroit when you get famous. If you go to any other city, Atlanta, L.A., there’s a rap ‘industry,’ they do cooperate. Here, it’s cannibalism. It’s like no other place in America.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventPolice said Proof was shot after shooting a man at the club. Proof was the second member of Eminem’s entourage to be shot in Detroit within four months. Obie Trice was shot in the head on New Year’s Eve while driving on a freeway but has recovered. Nationally, hip-hop superstars Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G. and Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay were shot to death in the past decade. In an eerie coincidence, a shooting death of Proof was depicted in Eminem’s 2005 music video for “Like Toy Soldiers,” a song that warns against hip-hop wars escalating into real-life violence. The video shows a bloodied Proof lying in a hospital bed while doctors try to revive him. It also depicts the rapper’s funeral. Proof also prophesied his death on “No T. Lose,” a track from his 2005 solo album “Searching for Jerry Garcia,” rapping, “Broken hearted, my soul’s like an open target/And I’m ready to leave Earth, you step to my death next year on my T-shirt.” Jake Hill interviewed Proof a month ago for a story in Detroit Rock City magazine that hits newsstands this week. He said Proof knew violence was a part of life, but he never worried about it. last_img read more