|Also known as|
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
D12 (an initialism for the Dirty Dozen) was an American hip hop collective from Detroit, Michigan. Formed in 1996, the group achieved mainstream success with its lineup of de facto leader Eminem, Proof, Bizarre, Mr. Porter, Kuniva and Swifty McVay.
D12 had chart-topping albums in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia during the early 2000s. The group released the albums Devil's Night in 2001 and D12 World in 2004, spawning numerous hits such as "Fight Music", "Purple Pills", "My Band", "How Come" and "Shit on You" throughout that period. Both albums were certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In 2004, the group won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Act.
Since 2006, Eminem's hiatus and the death of Proof resulted in the group being less active in subsequent years. On August 31, 2018, Eminem released a song titled "Stepping Stone" on his tenth studio album Kamikaze (2018) announcing that D12 had officially disbanded.
Early career and The Underground EP (1996–1998)
In 1997, they released their debut extended play, The Underground EP, which was recorded between 1996 and 1997. In 1997 and 1998, its members began establishing reputations locally. Bizarre was named Inner City Entertainment's "Flava of the Week" and went on to release an album, Attack of the Weirdos. Along with Eminem, Rah Digga and Young Zee, he became an honorary member of The Outsidaz. Proof won a freestyling competition run by The Source. In 1999, Bugz released These Streets EP, and made several appearances on other rappers' songs.
Around the time of Eminem's first record deal, Proof attempted to revive D12. He managed to recruit local Detroit hip hop duo Da Brigade, composed of Kuniva, a local MC, and Mr. Porter, a longtime friend of Eminem and Proof. At the time, Porter was the group's producer (he later produced Eminem's first album, Infinite), but Kuniva persuaded him to join the group as an artist. Later the group was joined by Bugz, and Bugz introduced his longtime friend Swift, who at the time was a member of rap duo Da Rabeez.
Death of Bugz (1999)
On May 21, 1999, before a show in Detroit, Bugz attended a picnic where an argument with a man over a water pistol escalated into a fight. The man went to his SUV and retrieved a firearm, which he fired in Bugz's direction. Bugz was shot four times and was hit by the assailant's vehicle as the attacker fled the scene. The attack was captured on video and aired later that day on local news.
Members of the group were shaken by the tragedy, darkening the mood within the collective. One of Bugz's final acts had been a request that Swift join the group. After Bugz's death, Eminem volunteered as replacement to fulfill the group's forthcoming obligations. This led to Eminem eventually rejoining the group.
At the time of his death, Bugz was working on his first solo album, Mr. Obnoxious, which was released posthumously in February 2000. D12 recorded their debut album, Devil's Night, in his memory. Eminem's third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, is also dedicated to him. The track "Good Die Young" on D12's second album, D12 World, is about Bugz. The album also includes "Bugz '97", a 1997 recording originally from the song "Desperados".
Devil's Night, D12 World and appearances without Eminem (2000–2005)
Their debut album, Devil's Night, referring to the tradition of setting unoccupied buildings on fire the night before Halloween, was released in June 2001. It debuted at number one on the U.S. and number two on the UK chart, also reaching the top of the Canadian charts. Devil's Night went on to sell four million albums worldwide and two million in the U.S.
In August 2001, D12 and Esham were kicked off the Warped Tour after members of the group allegedly physically attacked Esham over the lyrics of his song "Chemical Imbalance", which contained a reference to Eminem's daughter. Eminem was not present during the tour.
D12 World was released on April 27, 2004, featuring production by Dr. Dre, Eminem, Porter and Kanye West, and guest appearances by Obie Trice on the track "Loyalty" and B-Real of Cypress Hill on the track "American Psycho II". It debuted at the top of the U.S., UK, and Australian albums charts, and at number two in Germany—selling over half a million records in its first week of release in the U.S. alone. "My Band", the album's first single, also reached number one in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. rhythmic top forty, the top five in the UK and Germany, and the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100.
The group appeared in the 2005 film The Longest Yard credited as "Basketball Convicts". For the movie, the group recorded the song "My Ballz". Although Eminem was the only D12 member not to appear in the movie, he performs the chorus and a verse in "My Ballz".
The group was often overshadowed by Eminem's massive success, and toured without him for the second album while Eminem was busy recording Encore. Although shadowed by Eminem's success, other members Bizarre and Proof managed mildly successful solo careers with the releases of Hannicap Circus and Searching for Jerry Garcia in 2005. In promotion for both albums, D12 performed live at the House of Blues in Chicago with King Gordy & stic.man. Eminem was in rehab due to his addiction to sleeping pills and could not attend. That concert, D12: Live in Chicago, was later released on DVD in August 2005.
D12 (minus Eminem) appeared on Tech N9ne's 2002 album entitled Absolute Power on the track "She-Devil". They also decided that Eminem would not be as prominent on their upcoming third album, which remains evident even after Proof's death. Their third album is estimated to be 70% completed without any input from Eminem. However, in June 2009, Eminem confirmed he was also working hard on the group's third studio album on an announcement made on Rap City during an interview with Eminem and Denaun Porter. The group recorded a song for Eminem's album Recovery titled "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", but it was not featured on the official album. It was later featured on Eminem's mixtape Straight from the Lab Part 2 which leaked in 2011.
Death of Proof, Swift's arrest and Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (2006)
On April 11, 2006, Proof died from a gunshot wound at a club in Detroit, after allegedly fatally shooting Keith Bender, Jr., following an argument over a game of pool. Proof was then shot by the bouncer Mario Etheridge, Bender's cousin. He was pronounced dead on arrival at St. John Health's Conner Creek Campus shortly thereafter. He was buried on April 19 in The Fellowship Chapel, Detroit, to a full house of 2,660 with thousands mourning outside.
Ten days later after Proof's death, Swift was arrested in Novi, Michigan, after failing to appear in court. This was due to his attendance as an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of group member Proof. Already on probation for a DUI offense, for which he served two days in October 2005, he was sentenced by District Court Judge Brian MacKenzie to 93 days in jail for violating the terms of the probation. This resulted in the stalling of recording for D12's third album. Following his release, work commenced on the album.
On December 5, 2006, Shady Records released Eminem Presents: The Re-Up which featured performances by Eminem, D12, 50 Cent, Obie Trice, Stat Quo, Bobby Creekwater and Cashis while affiliated artists such as Lloyd Banks, Akon and Nate Dogg, made guest appearances. Some tracks were collaborative performances from D12 members, such as "Murder" by Bizarre and Kuniva and "Whatever You Want" by Swifty McVay and Mr. Porter. The track "Trapped" by Proof included an intro by Eminem paying his final respects saying, "Big Proof, rest in peace dudey we love you. We just wanna keep making you proud."
Member changes, hiatus, mixtapes and comeback (2007–2013)
On May 21, 2008, after four years of inactivity and the passing of Proof, D12 released a new mixtape, Return of the Dozen Vol. 1. The mixtape was designed to get D12 back on their feet in preparation for new possible content. The mixtape lacked Eminem (who was working on his solo album, Relapse). It contains several guest features from rappers such as Royce da 5'9" (whom they had a feud with) and King Gordy. Some tracks were solo performances from a D12 member, such as "If You Want It" by Kuniva, in a similar way to how Eminem performed "Girls" from Devil's Night.
D12 released their mixtape Return of the Dozen Vol. 2 on April 12, 2011, which featured Fuzz Scoota. Fuzz Scoota was one of the original members of D12 but left in 1999. He then later joined back with D12 on April 7, 2011. Eminem was only present on one track throughout the whole mixtape, though he wasn't present at all in the previous one. Due to Eminem being on tour for his album Recovery and because of Mr. Porter being his current hype man there were four active members of D12 at the time (Bizarre, Kuniva, Fuzz and Swift). The others, while not currently active, were still members of D12. In a video posted on YouTube by Eminem & Royce da 5'9" on June 13, 2011, Eminem stated that he was back in the studio with D12 after not being a very active member for nearly three years. D12 performed at the Kanrocksas Music Festival on August 5, 2011.
The track, "Outro", off the Return of the Dozen Vol. 2 mixtape, had a music video released on September 1, 2011, though the video did not feature either Eminem or Mr. Porter. The group also stated intentions to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of the Devils Night album, though the celebration was held on the actual Devil's Night on October 30 in Saint Andrew's Hall in Detroit, Michigan, even though the album was released months earlier on June 19, 2001.
In 2012, Bizarre left the group, citing creative differences. That same year, March 24, Mr. Porter announced that he had left D12 via a series of tweets. In the Twitter posts, he said that he wanted to focus on being a solo artist, but clarified that holds no animosity toward other members of the group. The group now currently has only four members.
While promoting his recent mixtape, Kuniva was interviewed in August 2012 about the group's status. He replied that it's "not over, we're still coming." He went on to state that D12 had been back in the studio as a whole. Former D12 member Mr. Porter was asked on Twitter on January 26, 2013 about a possible new D12 album. He responded "Not happening bro sorry", clarifying that he would not appear on the album.
Bizarre and Kon Artis rejoin, Shady XV, unreleased third studio album and The Devil's Night Mixtape (2014–2015)
In January 2014, Mark Bass of the Bass Brothers confirmed that D12 had been recently recording at the F.B.T. studio and he had been mixing their recorded material. He also confirmed that Eminem was featured on at least three songs that have been completed. In February 2014, Bizarre confirmed that he was back in the group and that D12 would be releasing their third studio album during 2014.
On August 25, 2014, a press release on Eminem's official website also revealed D12 to be featured on the label's upcoming 2-disc compilation album, titled Shady XV. The album, released on November 24, 2014, featured one greatest hits disc and one disc with new material from a variety of Shady Records recording artists including D12. The new D12 song was entitled "Bane", which features the return of Kon Artis and was also produced by him. The song did not feature Eminem or returning member Fuzz Scoota.
On August 18, 2015, D12 confirmed on Tim Westwood TV that they have already recorded a large number of songs for the album and will release it "when the time is right." On October 1, 2015, it was announced that D12 would be releasing a new mixtape, The Devil's Night Mixtape was released on October 30, 2015 and it featured Lazarus, King Gordy, Royce da 5'9", Bizarre, Swifty McVay, Kuniva and Mr. Porter. It also included a freestyle by Eminem for its introduction although he wasn't present on any other tracks throughout the whole mixtape. It was hosted by DJ Whoo Kid.
Solo careers, collaborative works and breakup (2017–2018)
In 2017, D12 have been focusing on their respective solo careers. On February 17, Swifty McVay released his debut album Grey Blood. Bizarre released his new mixtape Tweek Sity 2, in addition to working on collaborations with other artists such as Riff Raff, King Gordy and Qom Qazamah respectively. Swifty McVay and Kuniva are currently working on their collaboration album, titled My Brother's Keeper. On August 31, 2018, Eminem released a song titled "Stepping Stone" on his album Kamikaze. On it, Eminem announced that D12 was officially broken up.
A rivalry with a fellow Detroit-based group known as Natas began in the late 1990s, when D12 opened for Lil' Kim at her Detroit show. It is alleged that Natas band member Esham Smith was attacked by a group of D12 associates after he was invited onstage and subsequently outperformed them. Initially, D12 member Eminem was on good terms with Natas, but the two had a falling out when he criticized Esham's second album. In speaking with Murder Dog, Esham responded to D12 calling them "the Village People of rap", Eminem "a super bitch", and making reference to Eminem's daughter, Hailie, being in a coma on the track "Chemical Imbalance". D12, in turn, responded with the song "Instigator", dissing Natas, while Proof made two diss tracks aimed specifically at Esham, "Every Sucker Has a Moment" and "Uh Huh", though the latter was not released. Both sides tried to make amends prior to joining the Warped Tour 2001. However a fight was provoked after Esham allegedly threw items at D12's tour bus. Smith sustained a broken nose, bruised eardrum, a temporary loss of hearing, and multiple cuts and bruises according to his label's spokeswoman. Natas member Mastamind sustained multiple cuts and bruises. Both groups were removed from the Warped Tour line up, and banned from ever performing at the festival again.
Royce da 5'9"
When first signed to Aftermath Entertainment, Eminem was not on good terms with the rest of D12, causing him to initially only focus on furthering the career of his Bad Meets Evil bandmate Royce da 5'9". Royce performed on Eminem's first solo album The Slim Shady LP, and acted as his hype man for the first weeks of his debut tour. Eminem eventually reconciled with D12, and also began giving time to establishing their career. This caused a number of projects Royce had planned with Eminem to be postponed indefinitely. In protest, he resigned as Eminem's hype man, with the position being taken up by Proof. D12 saw this as a betrayal to Eminem, as the resignation came at the awkward time of halfway through his first tour. This resulted in an immediate falling out between Royce da 5'9" and D12, with a drawn-out, public rivalry between the rapper and five of the six members ensuing. Royce released three diss tracks aimed at the group; the first diss track, "Shit on You", was recorded over the instrumental of D12's "Shit on You" and mainly attacked group member Bizarre. "Malcolm X" was the second diss track, which featured Tré Little. D12 responded with "Smack Down", which was recorded over 50 Cent's "Back Down" instrumental. Proof also recorded a diss track entitled "Many Men". This was recorded over 50 Cent's "Many Men (Wish Death)" instrumental. Proof later released another diss with The Purple Gang called "Beef Is Ova". Royce responded with his third diss track, which was recorded over 50 Cent's "In Da Club" instrumental titled "Death Day". In the Summer of 2003, D12 member Proof confronted Royce da 5'9" outside a club in Detroit. Violence erupted between the rappers' entourage, leading to the police being called, and Proof and Royce's arrest. The two were detained overnight in adjacent cells where they talked out their differences and ended the feud. A few years later Royce would feature on D12's mixtape, Return of the Dozen, as well as on the line-up of their following tour of Europe and Canada and appearing on The Devil's Night Mixtape.
During the time Eminem and Mr. Porter started recording Recovery, the rest of D12 were featured on a diss track directed at Eminem with rapper Canibus on his record Melatonin Magik titled "Air Strike (Pop Killer)". Canibus had previously been involved in a feud with Eminem. Canibus name-dropped Eminem's longtime deceased friend Proof, saying "if Proof was alive he'd be dying inside". D12 member Swift responded to the record publicly, and had the following to say about DZK (another rapper featured on the track): "[He] asked us to do a track with him when he already was teamed up with Canibus without us knowing. They dissed Em, took our verses and added them to the song so they can bring traffic and make it seem like we turning on Em... as a desperate attempt to be heard after ducking and dodging Em for 7 years. It was a straight hoe move."
- Bizarre (1996–2006, 2008–2012, 2014–2018)
- Mr. Porter (1996–2006, 2008–2012, 2014–2018)
- Kuniva (1996–2006, 2008–2018)
- Swifty McVay (2000–2006, 2008–2018)
- Eminem (2000–2006)
- Proof (1996–2006; his death)
- Bugz (1996–1999; his death)
- Fuzz Scoota (2011–2012)
Awards and nominations
|2002||ECHO Awards (for "Devil's Night")||Best Hip-Hop/Urban Artist (International)||Won|
|2004||MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Hip-Hop Act||Won|
|2004||MTV Video Music Awards (for "My Band")||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Group Video||Nominated|
|Best Rap Video||Nominated|
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The music journalist and author Dan Sicko describes certain strains of Detroit hip-hop as 'an extreme, almost parodied' version of inner city life, which he links to the extremities of urban decline in the city: 'both the horrorcore of hip-hop outfits such as Insane Clown Posse, Esham and (to a lesser extent) the multi-platinum-selling Eminem, utilize shocking (and blatantly over the top) narratives to give an over-exaggerated, almost cartoon-like version of urban deprivation in Detroit' (cited in Cohen and Strachan, 2005).
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