When the Vans Warped Tour hit Camden, New Jersey, on Friday, a longstanding Detroit rap rivalry reared up and got its participants, D12 and Esham, evicted from the lineup.
A fight erupted backstage at the Tweeter Center at the Waterfront between Natas affiliates Esham and T.N.T. and Eminem protégés D12, just three days after Em's crew joined the punk/extreme-sports outing. Warped Tour organizers wouldn't discuss the flap's details and only confirmed that both parties involved were immediately asked to leave the tour.
"Personal issues were brought into the tour, and we felt they weren't conducive to the Warped environment and everyone's good time," Warped executive producer Kevin Lyman said.
Spokespeople for Interscope Records, D12's label, also didn't disclose specifics regarding the incident. They did, however, issue a statement confirming the group's departure from the tour.
"On Friday, August 3, 2001, an incident occurred backstage at the Warped Tour, spurred by D12's concern for the safety of their guests," the statement read. "As a result, both D12 and the other party involved have been asked to leave the tour."
A publicist for Esham, however, provided a detailed account of the backstage incident. Esham, a pioneer of Detroit's acid-rap/horrorcore scene, claims D12 and their posse, which numbered between 30 and 40 people, jumped him and T.N.T. Esham suffered a broken nose, ruptured eyeball, mild concussion and a loss of hearing in his left ear as a result of the fight and was taken to Virtua West Jersey Hospital in Camden, according to his publicist. Esham is now recovering in Detroit.
A hospital spokesperson confirmed the rapper's admittance Friday night, but his discharge report cited only scrapes and bruises as his injuries.
While at the hospital, Esham filed a police report against his attackers, according to an Overcore Records press release. However, a spokesperson for the Camden Police Department couldn't confirm the report's existence since the records office was closed at press time.
T.N.T. escaped the entanglement with minor cuts and bruises, the publicist said.
"It's a sad state of affairs when someone like D12/Eminem, who make their careers verbally assaulting people, resort to violence when someone talks a little trash about them," Scott Santos, president and CEO of Overcore Records said in a statement. "We are very concerned about Esham's injuries, with possible neurological damage and hearing loss sustained during the attack, and the effect it may have on the future of his career."
Interscope spokespeople maintain Eminem was in Detroit at the time of the incident.
An early public display of the two camps' feud occurred during a 1997 D12/Lil' Kim concert, when D12's Proof called Esham to the stage, according to Esham's publicist. Esham took Proof up on the challenge and proceeded to rally the crowd in his support, when members of D12's entourage attacked him.
Esham added more fuel to the fire with a verse of "All Night Every Day," from the rapper's latest album, Tongues: "The styles that you runnin' 'round with is ours. You and them Shady suckers is nothin' but cowards. Bang your brains in the dirt, make you go berserk. If you rap with Emily (Eminem), your ass gonna get murked."
D12's debut album, Devils Night, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in late June, and now stands at #3 with nearly 1.2 million copies sold, according to SoundScan.
For a full-length D12 interview, check out "Slim Shady's Crew Stands Up."