Proof (rapper)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Proof holding a microphone to the camera
Proof in 2005
Background information
Birth nameDeShaun Dupree Holton
Also known as
  • Big Proof
  • Dirty Harry
Born(1973-10-02)October 2, 1973
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedApril 11, 2006(2006-04-11) (aged 32)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • hype man
Years active1994–2006
Formerly of
  • D12
  • 5 Elementz
  • Funky Cowboys
  • Promatic
  • Goon Sqwad

DeShaun Dupree Holton (October 2, 1973 – April 11, 2006), known professionally as Proof, was an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. During his career, he was a member of the groups 5 Elementz, Funky Cowboys, Promatic, Goon Sqwad,[1] and D12. He was a close childhood friend of rapper Eminem, who also lived in Detroit. Proof was often a hype man at Eminem's concerts.

Early life[edit]

DeShaun Dupree Holton was born to Sharallene "Pepper" Holton, a single mother.[2] His father, McKinley Jackson, was a music producer who left to pursue his career prior to Holton's birth. DeShaun was close friends with Eminem from a young age.[3]

1999 Munich/Germany Juice Jam


Proof performing with Eminem in 2000

Originally known as Maximum, under the moniker "Proof", Holton first rose to national prominence when he formed D12 "The Dirty Dozen" in 1995 with his friends Eminem, Bizarre, Mr. Porter, and a high school friend Eye-Kyu. Shortly after that, Proof recruited two friends, B-Flat & Dirty Ratt, to the group. This created the first lineup of Proof's supergroup D12. Eventually this first incarnation of the group back in early 1996 because the original members of D12, Eye-Kyu, B-Flat, and Dirty Ratt, were more focused on recording music with their other groups.[clarification needed] Bizarre, Denaun, and Eminem, could not make it to the studio sessions because they were also working with their other groups. Proof decided to break up this version of the group in 1996. Proof later reformed the group in mid-1996. This time Proof called Bizarre and Eminem, since they were available. He also asked Denaun, who said he would not return to the group unless they recruit an affiliate and friend of the group, Kuniva. Proof allowed Denaun to put Kuniva in the group since all the members at the time were already friends with Kuniva .[citation needed] Then Bizarre decided one of Proof's friends, who was a rapper (from 6th Mile, Detroit) named MC Bugz, should be in the group. Bugz was also a childhood friend of B-Flat and Dirty Ratt, who had previously parted ways with D12. Early individual accomplishments included being featured in The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column in 1999 and nearly winning the 1998 Blaze Battle. His first television appearance was in the video for Aaliyah's "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number".[citation needed]

In 2000, Proof toured with Eminem, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg in the Up In Smoke Tour, performing as a hype man for Eminem. He gained further exposure in 2001 with the release of Devil's Night, D12's debut album on Interscope Records. The following year, Proof collaborated with Dogmatic on "Promatic" and joined Eminem's "Anger Management" tour in support of the release.[4] He appeared in the film 8 Mile along with Eminem and Xzibit. Proof appeared as Lil' Tic, a freestyle rapper who rap battles the lead character, B-Rabbit, played by Eminem.[5] To capitalize on the publicity from the film, Proof released a six-song EP called Electric CoolAid Acid Testing.[6] Proof also starred in a cameo role, alongside the rest of D12 (except for Eminem), in The Longest Yard, appearing as "Basketball Convicts" during the credits.[clarification needed]

Solo work[edit]

Proof released a solo album featuring collaborations with 50 Cent, Method Man, Nate Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, T3 of Slum Village, Obie Trice, King Gordy, Eminem and D12. Proof said that he did not produce the record with Shady Records or Aftermath because he wanted to "build his own thing".[citation needed] Called Searching for Jerry Garcia, the album was released on August 9, 2005, on his own Iron Fist Records label in conjunction with Alliance Entertainment's IDN Distribution, ten years to the day following Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's death. It contained the prophetic song Kurt Kobain in which he wrote of his own death and 'passing the sign' to 1st Born as his protégé once he was gone.[7][8] Proof has said that he considered Garcia to be a "genius" who suffered from common character flaws. Proof has stated his admiration for Garcia's eclectic style, saying that Garcia "went against the grain".[9] Proof stated how he wanted to be remembered in an interview with shortly after his album release: "I want people to say that I was a true artist, that I did it best and stayed true to Hip Hop roots [...] I'd want people to understand I did it for the love, not for the charts."[10] The album received favorable reviews, which commented on its "eclectic" and "introspective" nature.[11] Despite its list of guest appearances and favorable reviews, the release did not make a significant impact on the charts. Proof also recorded a track, "How I Live," with Twiztid for their album Independents Day shortly before his death.[citation needed] Besides these, he recorded during his Gold Coast tour in 2006, which was exactly two weeks before his death, a song with "Liquidsilva" from Australia.

At the time of Proof's death, he wrote and recorded what would have been his third album called Time a Tell with DJ Jewels Baby in a span of twenty-four hours. The album was later released on DatPiff in 2010 as a mixtape.

Shooting and death[edit]

On April 11, 2006, Proof was shot three times by Mario Etheridge, once in the head and twice in the chest, after a dispute broke out during a game of billiards at the CCC Club on 8 Mile Road in Detroit. A pool game between Proof and Keith Bender turned into a heated argument and then escalated into a physical altercation. Etheridge, who was Bender's cousin, fired a warning shot into the air. There have been many conflicting reports about Proof and Keith Bender's roles in the shooting, but it was reported that Proof then shot Bender in the head during the altercation.[12] Bender was not immediately killed by the gunshot but died a week later from his injuries.[13] In response to Proof shooting Bender, Etheridge then shot Proof three times, once in the head and twice in the chest, killing him at the scene. At the time of his death, Proof's blood alcohol content was 0.32. Proof's lawyer, David Gorosh, accused the police and the media of being "reckless" for suggesting that his client fired the first shots without having any hard evidence. A few weeks after both men's death, Bender's family began a wrongful death suit against Proof's estate.[14][15] Authorities determined that Etheridge was acting lawfully in defense of another; however, he was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm inside of a building.[16]

On April 19, 2006, a service for Proof was held in the Fellowship Chapel in Detroit to a full house of 2,660 people, including life-long friends Eminem, Royce Da 5'9, 50 Cent, and thousands more mourning outside.[17] He was then buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.[18]


Seven months after Proof's death, his close friend Reginald "Mudd" Moore, who was with him at the nightclub where he was killed, gave an exclusive interview with XXL magazine where he told a different account of what happened that night. In Mudd's version of the events, Proof is portrayed neither as the instigator nor a cold-blooded killer. According to Mudd, the night started out with him and Proof and two of their friends barhopping. They arrived at the Triple C club at around 3:55am, where a fight between Keith Bender and Proof escalated over a pool game. The bouncer Mario Etheridge then pulled out his gun and fired two shots into the air to break the fight up, but instead the shots caused panic. Mudd went on to state that an intoxicated Proof pushed him out of the way, reached for his gun and fired once into the air. Keith Bender then came from behind and started attacking Proof, trying to get the weapon out of his hand. Etheridge then came over and started shooting in the direction of Proof and Bender, killing both men.[19]


In 2008, Welsh singer/songwriter Jem dedicated the song "You Will Make It" to the memory of Proof (listed under his birth name DeShaun Holton) on her second album Down to Earth.[20] In the liner notes, she said "For your families and friends and for all those who experienced the tragedy of sudden loss".[21] In early 2009, Jem revealed "The track is about losing someone and I wrote it the day after his friend Proof was murdered. I was in Detroit with Eminem's friends, who I happened to be recording with, when it happened".[22] Eminem eulogized his friend with the unreleased track "Difficult", which leaked to the public in 2010.[23] Eminem further eulogized Proof on Recovery with "You're Never Over". Eminem has since mentioned Proof in a number of songs, including "Going Through Changes","Cinderella Man", "Deja Vu", "Walk on Water", "Believe", "Arose", "Stepping Stone", "Venom", Killer (Remix) and "Zeus".


With D12
With Funky Cowboys
  • Livin' Proof: Funky Cowboys Vol 1 (2017) (Recorded in 1996)
  • Livin' Proof: Funky Cowboys Vol 2 (2018) (Recorded in 1996/1997)


Year Film Role
2002 8 Mile' Lil Tic
2005 The Longest Yard Basketball Convict
2006 Rap Sheet: Hip-Hop and The Cops Himself[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Trick Trick on How Proof Introduce Him to Eminem". YouTube. Archived from the original on November 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "Proof Foundation Now Offers Scholarship To Detroit Students". February 15, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Proof: 'Eminem's Best Friend' And A Vital Member Of Detroit's Hip-Hop Scene". MTV. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "Proof: Reviews, Discography..." June 18, 2004. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  5. ^ "8 Mile (2002)". Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  6. ^ David Friedman. "Interview with Proof". Murder Dog. Archived from the original on March 26, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  7. ^ "Kurt Kobain YouTube Video with lyrics". Archived from the original on November 18, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  8. ^ "DeShaun Holton: Information". Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  9. ^ "Proof "Searching for Jerry Garcia" Review". Hip Hop Galaxy. Archived from the original on November 27, 2005. Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  10. ^ "The Proof Is In The Music". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2007.
  11. ^ "Proof – Searching For Jerry Garcia Album Review". Hip Hop DX. July 29, 2005. Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  12. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Rapper Who Was Killed Fired First Shot, Police Say, The New York Times, April 14, 2006, accessed November 17, 2008.
  13. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Another Death in Shooting At Detroit Nightclub, The New York Times, April 19, 2006, accessed November 17, 2008.
  14. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Wrongful Death Suit Against Rapper's Estate, The New York Times, May 3, 2006, accessed November 19, 2009.
  15. ^ "Proof's Estate sued for damages by Bender's family". BBC News. May 6, 2012.
  16. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Proof's Killer Convicted, The New York Times, September 22, 2006, accessed November 17, 2008.
  17. ^ Bozza, Anthony (April 20, 2006). "Proof positive". The Observer. The Guardian UK. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  18. ^ "Rapper Proof Laid To Rest In Detroit". Billboard. April 19, 2006.
  19. ^ "The Death of Proof Bare Witness – XXL". October 2, 2006. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  20. ^ Raible, Allan. "Review: Jem's "Down To Earth"". ABC News. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  21. ^ Jem – Down To Earth (CD liner notes). ATO Records. 88088-21630-2
  22. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (February 7, 2009). "Jem hopes to team up with Eminem". Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  23. ^ "Eminem's Proof Tribute 'Difficult' Leaks Online". MTV.
  24. ^ Michael Paoletta, ed. (May 6, 2006). "Inside Track: Backstabbers". Billboard. The most recent killing to make headlines is that of D12 member Proof, who, eerily, was interviewed for this documentary before his untimely death.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]