Proof (rapper)

Proof (rapper)

Proof in August 2005
Background information
Birth name DeShaun Dupree Holton
Born October 2, 1973(1973-10-02)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died April 11, 2006(2006-04-11) (aged 32)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, record producer, actor
Years active 1992 – 2006
Labels Shady Records, Interscope, Iron Fist Records
Associated acts D12, Eminem, Bizarre, Goon Sqwad, 5 Elementz Promatic, Soul Intent, 50 Cent, Obie Trice

DeShaun Dupree Holton (October 2, 1973 – April 11, 2006) better known as Proof his stage name, was an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. During his career, he was a member of the groups Goon Squad, 5 Elementz, Promatic, and most notably D12. He was a close childhood friend of rapper Eminem since they were 12, and lived on the same block, although they attended different schools. In 2006, Proof was shot and killed during an altercation at a nightclub.


Early life

DeShaun Holton was born on October 2, 1973 to Pepper Holton, a single mother. Proof's father was a music producer who abandoned the family to pursue his career. Proof grew up in Warren, Michigan. It was there where he met childhood friend and future work associate Marshall Mathers.

Music career

Early career

Proof first rose to national prominence as a part of the rap group D12, which he was instrumental in forming, although he had achieved a degree of success prior. He was featured in The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column in 1999 and came close to winning the 1998 Blaze Battle. His first television appearance was in the video for Aaliyah's "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number". In 2000, Proof toured along with Eminem, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in the Up In Smoke Tour as a hype man for Eminem. He rose to prominence 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.[1] He appeared in the film 8 Mile along with Eminem and Xzibit; although in the film the character based on him, Future, was portrayed by Mekhi Phifer, he played Lil' Tic, a freestyle rapper who rap battles B-Rabbit, the lead character, played by Eminem.[2] To capitalize on the publicity from the film, Proof released a six-song EP called Electric CoolAid: Acid Testing.[3] Proof also had a cameo alongside the rest of D12 in The Longest Yard appearing as "Basketball Convicts" in the credit.

Solo work

Proof released a solo album featuring collaborations with rappers 50 Cent, Method Man, Nate Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, T3 of Slum Village, Obie Trice, and D12 on his own Iron Fist Records label in conjunction with Alliance Entertainment's IDN Distribution. 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, 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 protege once he was gone.[4][5] This release did not make a significant impact on the charts despite its list of guest appearances.

Originally, every song title on the album was to be named after a celebrity. "Jump Biatch" was originally titled "Eric Clapton Jr," but Proof changed the title when he realized that Eric Clapton's son fell to his death from a 53rd-story window.[6]

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".[7] The album received favorable reviews, which commented on its "eclectic" and "introspective" nature.[8]

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."[9]

Proof also recorded a track, "How I Live," with Twiztid for their album Independence Day shortly before his death.


On April 11, 2006, whilst playing a game of billiards, at the CCC Club on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, Michigan he was shot in the chest by Mario Etheridge, who was a club bouncer. A pool game between Keith Bender & Proof descended into a heated argument and physical altercation, Etheridge, Keith Bender's cousin fired a 'warning-shot' into the air. Etheridge, later shot Proof three times in the head and chest. Proof was killed instantly. Proof's blood alcohol content at the time of death was 0.32 percent, four times the legal DWI limit. An autopsy revealed that he had no other illegal narcotics in his system. Bender's family began a wrongful death suit against Proof's estate. Etheridge was held by authorities to have been acting in lawful self-defense of another man; however, he was found guilty of carrying an illegal firearm and discharging it inside a building.[10][11][12][13][14]

On April 19, 2006, Proof was buried in The Fellowship Chapel, Detroit, to a full house of 2,660 including D12, Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Obie Trice, and Snoop Dogg with thousands mourning outside.[15]

Alternative death story

Several months later, hip-hop magazine XXL published an alternative account of the evening in a feature article interviewing Proof's friend, a police officer who accompanied Proof on the night of the shooting and claimed to have brought the gun that was used to kill Bender.[16] Mudd claimed that his group went to the CCC Club after going to a strip club, began drinking and that Proof played pool against Bender. He observed Proof and Bender begin arguing, noting that "it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for Proof to get drunk and fight" and stated that he saw the two getting into an argument. After they were separated, Mudd claimed Bender hit Proof and a fight between the two broke out. Shortly afterward, Mudd saw Etheridge shoot his gun straight up into the air to break up the fight. Proof then demanded Mudd's gun, and after he refused, pulled the weapon from Mudd's pants and also fired into the air. Mudd claimed that Bender charged Proof, and that in the scuffle shots were fired that hit both Bender and Proof.[16]


In 2007, Proof's mother, Pepper Holton created the Proof Foundation in his memory. The Proof Foundation is a Michigan based non-profit organization formed to honor and preserve the legacy of DeShaun “Proof” Holton through the promotion of music and arts education by providing scholarships to low income children from single parent households. Proof's death was mentioned in Eminem's 2009 album Relapse ("Deja Vu", "Beautiful" and "Elevator"), and on his 2010 album Recovery ("Going Through Changes" and "You're Never Over"). In 2011 the song "Dudey" (earlier titled "Difficult"), a tribute to Proof by Eminem, was leaked. Obie Trice, an old friend of Proof and Eminem, recorded a chorus for the song. Rapper Royce da 5'9" made a tribute to Proof on a song from his Bar Exam mixtape, he would later dedicate a song titled "Security" from his album Success Is Certain.


Discography with D12
Solo albums




  1. ^ "Proof: Reviews, Discography...". June 18, 2004. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  2. ^ "8 Mile (2002)". Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  3. ^ David Friedman. "Interview with Proof". Murder Dog. Archived from the original on 2006-03-26. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  4. ^ "Kurt Kobain You Tube Video with lyrics". Retrieved 2010, July 18. 
  5. ^ "DeShaun Holton: Information". Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  6. ^ "Proof: Body of the Life Force". 
  7. ^ "Proof "Searching for Jerry Garcia" Review". Hip Hop Galaxy. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  8. ^ "Proof - Searching For Jerry Garcia Album Review". Hip Hop DX. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  9. ^ "The Proof Is In The Music". 
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Another Death in Shooting At Detroit Nightclub, The New York Times, April 19, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  12. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Wrongful Death Suit Against Rapper's Estate, The New York Times, May 3, 2006, Accessed November 19, 2009.
  13. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Proof's Killer Convicted, The New York Times, September 22, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  14. ^ "Proof's Estate sued for damages by Bender's family". BBC News. May 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ "D12, Eminem, 50 Cent and Others Attend Proof's Funeral". 2006-04-20. 
  16. ^ a b Brendan Frederick, The Death of Proof: Bare Witness,XXL, October 2, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.

External links

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