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D12: Slim Shady's Crew Stands Up

D12
You never saw Michael Jordan's schoolyard buddy warming the bench for the Bulls. And it's not like Tom Hanks' best friend is co-starring in his movies. So how come as soon as they make it big, the first thing many rap stars do is put out records by their boys?

Well, because they can.

But in the case of Eminem's Detroit homies Swifty, Proof, Kuniva, Kon Artis and Bizarre — otherwise known as D12 — the story is a bit more complicated. The six-man crew (whose name refers to each member's double identity) has been together since the mid-'90s, but it wasn't until Slim Shady became a superstar that D12 finally got around to recording an album. The result is a #1 smash, Devils Night, and, as the non-Em members told MTV News' Sway, they are ready for their close-ups.

Sway: You guys had to wait around while Em did his thing. How does it feel to finally have the whole D12 crew release an album?

Bizarre: We was never waiting around. We was always doing something. Kon Artis was always producing and we was in the studio dropping stuff. I had a solo track, "Attack of the Weirdos." Proof had a single out. He was also the "Unsigned Hype" Source [magazine] champion of '99. Swifty was part of the Rabeez [crew] and Kuniva was part of Da Brigade [crew].

Proof: [In] 1994 or '95 ... I caught Em back in Detroit and I was like, "Yo, we need to start a group together, put some MCs in it [and call] it 'Dirty Dozen.' " At this time, we thought [the 1967 war movie] "The Dirty Dozen" was [about] gunslingers. We wanted to be lyrical slingers [with a] western-type philosophy. ... We had a member in our group called Bugz. [Everyone shows their tattoos of Bugz' name.] He passed away and his last wish was to put Swifty in the group, so we [did]. ... That's how D12 came about.

"Purple Hills"
[RealVideo]
Sway: You can tell from your sense of humor that you've been around each other a lot. You all have your own characters and are crazy in your own way. What's it like in the studio when you work together?

Kon Artis: Everybody be doing their own thing. Em [will make] beats from scratch. I'll come in with a beat, and we'll get a concept rolling. Then everybody just writes and [it all] ends up falling in place.

Swifty: We write our own lyrics. I might be like, "Kon Artis, give me a word [that rhymes with] orange." He might be like, "Door hinge." The chemistry is just tight [because] we've been together for so many years.

Proof: If you listen to Em's early stuff ... he was representing the brothers from the Dirty Dozen. We had always been there. ... You have individuality ... [but in] D12 you can say things that you don't normally say as a solo artist. Eminem is Eminem, [but] Slim Shady comes from D12.

Sway: You've said a lot of the controversial lyrics on the album are based on fact. Explain that to me, because on "Revelation" I heard "There's three things to keep me from being a Nazi/ I'm black, a f--, and my dad's Liberace." Is that your truth?

Bizarre: That's the truth, man. You can't be black and a f--. That's the two things Nazi hate [the most].

Proof: Everything we talk about we know because of the media. We're not sitting there next to a Nazi to know what they like. We're not sitting there to know about somebody's grandma being raped. That's all media, so that's what we feed off, the media. Leaders are gonna call us controversial, but it's only from what they feed to us.

Kon Artis: We figured it out today. The media can't control hip-hop music, period. ... The best thing is if you're educated about it. ... You can't just ridicule us for being real, the media is real. "Faces of Death," that's a movie you can buy in a video store. I can't even watch that movie for 10 minutes. I'm not that sick. I'm just trying to educate people.

Swifty: What speaks louder than words?

"Ain't Nuttin' But Music"
[RealAudio]
Sway: What speaks louder then words? What has more impact than words? Perceptions.

Proof: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis kill 80 people in a movie with one clip. They never reload. How can a person verbally influence you to do something more negative than [something you see?] My son, when he watches TV, he knows how to pick up a gun [and go] "Pow!" But when you say that, verbally, a two year old can't get it.

Sway: How many of you have kids? [All except Kuniva raise hands.] So this Devils Night album is something you wouldn't mind your kids hearing?

Proof: My son knows the words to "Purple Pills."

Kon Artis: What do your parents always tell you? "I'd rather you do it in my house than do it on the street." But if you're doing it in your house, then you go on the street [and do it], what's the difference? If you don't know it at home, you gonna learn it at school. I started learning how to cuss when I went to school.

Swifty: [If most parents] saw a little kid [picking] up a knife, [they would] be like, "No, don't do that." [They'd] spank him and [say], "Go to your room." Don't just say "No" and "Go to your room." You got to make them understand why not to pick up a knife.

Bizarre: People are scared of stuff they don't know about. When they [hear our album title], it's just automatically, Devils Night. But Devils Night is another way of saying Detroit, because "Devil's Night" is October 30. Every year [on October 30] there's a celebration in Detroit. The city just goes wild and crazy. It's like me saying the Big Apple about someone who lives in New York. It's just our way of saying "Detroit." If people would ask us that instead of judging us, they'd know [where] we're coming from and [understand] our lyrics.

Sway: Right now MTV is not playing your video for "Purple Pills." [Everyone boos.] You renamed the song "Purple Hills" because of the suggestive lyrical content.

Proof: We wasn't saying nothing about no pill! We're talking about a hill! Pill and hill are different. The lyrical content is [different on the edit] and we did it purposely to make sure we did not offend anyone. We made sure to take the drug references and everything out.

Kon Artis: Yo, you know what's messed up? They bleeped Em saying "ass," but they didn't bleep me saying "ass." Blink-182 run down the beach naked [in their videos]!

Sway: When are you guys going on tour? Is Eminem going to be on all the dates?

Proof: [We'll be on] the Warped tour, then we go to Japan. We'll be coming to your house next. [Eminem will] be coming on dates with us for sure. But one thing we trying to do [is] establish us as a group. [We don't want] to be under the shadow of him. [We want to] do our thing, too, and establish that, 'cause it is two different identities in one. Then, in the future, you'll see what we're saying. We want to establish some time with Em and some time without Em.

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