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Dirty Dozen Dish on 09-08-2004

Is there any truth to D12's song "My Band?" Is Eminem really the obnoxious lead singer depicted in the song? Does he really insist on preferential treatment and steal the limelight from his group members? In this exclusive interview, the Detroit Dozen's Eminem and Proof respond to all of our questions regarding the matter. But if you've chalked D12 up as a novelty band only good for comedic efforts, think again. Em and Proof explain how their latest album, D12 World, gives them an opportunity to prove their other lyrical talents.

LAUNCH editor Billy Johnson Jr. traveled to the group's hometown for this interview, in which they revealed details about internal feuding, the death of D12's seventh member, and the solo album plans for the rest of the guys. Read on.

LAUNCH: Your first single, "My Band," is hilarious. You've chosen to parody yourselves this time. Who came up with that idea?

EMINEM: I don't know. We were just talking one day...I was walking around the studio, just in "dude" mode. And it just came about. I went in and laid a hook, like I was doing a beat, and then they came in and listened to it. They liked the beat, so I put a hook to it.

PROOF: And here we are!

EMINEM: I laid my magnificent vocals down, had everyone come check it out. Like, "This is the issue we should address."

LAUNCH: What that the purpose of that single?

EMINEM: We wanted to address it, but hadn't come about with the proper way to do it yet, and that was just, like, a last-minute thing. I think it was one of the last songs on the album.

LAUNCH: How do you view this song? Is it comedy for you?

PROOF: Not really. It was a perspective that a lot of people see us as, 'cause of the situation that we're in.

LAUNCH: Do you think the song helps the situation or make it worse?

PROOF: I think it helps.

EMINEM: It's reverse psychology.

PROOF: It's reverse psychology, exactly.

LAUNCH: What reaction are you guys getting on the street?

PROOF: Oh, they be like, "You crazy. Silly as f--k!"

LAUNCH: Was it fun to look at your own situation and deal with it this way?

EMINEM: Yeah. I mean, the whole concept of the song is just like I'm a dick. Like, let me just be an a--hole, which is how the media perceives me: "Look, I don't care about these guys; we hate each other. We're fighting on the road all the time." It's the overall picture of how people can see us, and we think it's funny.

PROOF: Like, in your face!

EMINEM: Right back at you.

LAUNCH: Eminem , are you the sort of guy that's "always right"?

EMINEM: [sarcastically] Yeah, what I say goes. And that's it. And they all know that it's one way or it's out the door.

PROOF: Enough of that guy! We whoop his ass when the cameras is off. That's what happens.

EMINEM: Right. That's what I was getting to. OK?

LAUNCH: One difference I hear on this album is there's not so much of the shock-value stuff on the songs. Do you agree with that?

PROOF: I think that it's us growing up a little bit, getting a little mature.

LAUNCH: Did you want people to realize that there was more to you than "Purple Pills"?

PROOF: Exactly.

EMINEM: Yeah, more substance. We need to make sure of that, you know. The shock value of it all of that spawned from Detroit. Like this whole Slim Shady era in everything that I did from that album. The Marshall Mathers LP had a lot of shock value to it, too. So I mean, this was my group, but the world wasn't in tune with it yet. I came out first, and no one had ever heard me do it. So then group came out, and it was funny at first, but we felt like we needed to step the game up a notch, as far as putting emotion into it. Show them a little skill, just taking it to the next level. We had to do something different.

LAUNCH: Did it make for a different songwriting process? For instance, "The Good Die Young"--is it a different mindset when you're working on a song like that?

EMINEM: That was a dedication song to Bugs, who was a member of D12 that had passed right before we had Shady Records and before we got signed. It was a dedication song to him, basically. We all knew Bugs, but some of the guys in the group knew him better than others. I fell back from the song because I knew Bugs, but I didn't know him well enough, I feel, to personally make a dedication. But these guys must have probably felt that they wanted to do a song like that.

PROOF: We wanted to do it on the first album, but it just didn't come about. I think it just struck a chord with everybody in the group.

LAUNCH: A song like that, along with "My Band," seems to make pretty powerful statements.

EMINEM: Yeah, every now and then, it's gotta be like, "All jokes aside, this is how we really feel." And that was a good song for the group to get that serious side across, 'cause it's not easy always clowning. It isn't always about jokes. There's a time to joke, and there's a time to get serious.

LAUNCH: Tell me about your aliases in the group. Where does the "Dirty Dozen" concept come from?

PROOF: Honestly, we thought The Dirty Dozen was a western movie.

EMINEM: Yeah. Proof had come up with the name, thinking it was from a movie or something. He just had the name and we was thinking, at first, that there should be 12 members. We should put together, like, 12 members of the Hip-Hop Shop--people that we know, that we respect lyrically. And then we kind of narrowed it down to six, and we all had aliases. I was Slim Shady back then, but I was also Eminem. So we figured out that each person would make up two people.

PROOF: With our concept, we had a couple of members come and go out of D12...

EMINEM: And then we finally settled on who the members of the group were gonna be. It was all us who's here now, except for Bugs. That was the last, final members of the group. All I know is I got the call from Proof in New York. He was telling me that he had found something--like, not only would we all form a group, as far as the concept of what we'd be called, but also it was a better change for everybody to get collaborating together. I think everybody that we respect strongly as a group thought it would happen, that it would be more powerful and have a better chance. It was like, "OK, if we form this group, then there's gonna be six of us, instead of just one." It's because we all add to this--we're a crew anyways, but we're solo artists. Like, we all wanted to get our own deal and we had our own ideas. But basically, we just wanted the chance, you know?

LAUNCH: When Eminem got his solo deal, was the group excited? < P>PROOF: Uh, at that time, me and Eminem fell out like we always do, you know what I mean?

EMINEM: Every other month.

PROOF: [laughs] Yeah, every other month. But I saw the video, and it was like, somebody right next to you that really took it to the next level, and showed that he can hack it.

EMINEM: Yeah, with me and Proof, there's a little story, a little thing that not everybody knows about: At the time, me and him weren't speaking for a little while.

PROOF: We'd be right next to each other, and we wouldn't speak.

EMINEM: We fought a lot. We used to work at the same job and we'd just beef over the dumbest sh-t. He would come to work and just walk right past me and not speak. Could be the dumbest thing, whatever it was. One time, I picked him up to play basketball. I was supposed to pick him up. And he ended up not showing up! So it was like one of them little fallouts during that time, when we weren't speaking.

LAUNCH: What about solo material of the other D12 members?

PROOF: We all got solo projects. But we're doing this right, so I think that it's about this D12 album now. If not, then there's a solo joint from Bizarre, me, Swift...but nobody's intent is to jump out on a solo deal right now. You know, we're focusing on this album right here.

EMINEM: I mean, there's always gonna be D12, as a group, whether anybody does solo or side projects or whatever. No matter how successful or whatever happens with any of us in the group, we all know that the foundation is D12; I mean, that's what got us here. I remember: that was me coming up.

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