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DeShaun “Proof” Holton, October 2, 1973 — April 11, 2006

10 years.

10 muthafuckin’ years.

3650 days.

That’s how long Proof’s been gone.

April 11, 2006 he was taken away from us forever. Up until now I’ve avoided all of his memorials like the plague. I think I’m gonna go to this one.

In Detroit Hip Hop circles, timelines can be broken into two distinct eras. When Proof Was Alive, and After Proof’s Death. I know how it sounds & I’m only half kidding. That’s how profound his impact was on us.
Maybe some of you guys know the story; late night / early morning in a Detroit after hours club, shots ring out. When the smoke cleared two men lay dead & dying, one allegedly shot by Proof, Proof shot dead by Mario Ethridge, the cousin of the other man. Two families and Detroit Hip Hop changed forever. I never found out what the fuck REALLY happened in the CCC CLUB that night, all I knew is that my man was dead & I was sad as fuck & highly pissed. Over the years I came to deal with it, & I think it’s important to say again that TWO people died as a result of that incident. The other guy that died was named Keith Bender, & he was 35 years old. I just think it’s important that people at least know his name too because nobody is gonna be writing any articles & shit about Keith Bender, & I’m sure his family & friends loved him as much as we loved Proof. The reality is that Proof was Eminem’s best friend & hype man on stage which literally made him THE MAN NEXT TO THE MAN, so writers are gonna write about him. Plus he was my friend & this is my article & Chuck said that I could write whatever the fuck I want. The truth is I hate writing these types of pieces. J.DILLA, BAATIN, the DEX OSAMA joint, SEAN P. I feel like the fucking Grim Reaper’s publicist. Man, I wish I didnt have to write this shit. I wish Proof & Keith Bender never bumped heads at that fucking club. I wish Proof ‘s crazy ass wld have just gone the fuck home that night after the strip club.

The Strip Club.

I could write 100 pages about PROOF. Could pronably write a book on him. I could write some shit about black on black crime that would make Deray from BLACK LIVES MATTER proud. I could do a super HipHop story about Proof ‘s place in Detroit HipHop that would bring a tear to Harry Allen’s eye. Its impossible to try to sum up Proof ‘s life in one article. so I’m not even gonna try. Ya’ll know how I do it. I’m gonna tell a few stories about him, & I hope ya’ll get some insight into who he was. The strip club seems as good a place to start as any.

Proof loved the fucking strip club. Me & Proof use to go to the strip club EVERYDAY in about 2000 / 2001. We wouldn’t go to just one either, we would do “THE 8 MILE LOOP”. We would start at ALL- STARS & stay there for about an hour or til we got bored, then leave & head west on 8 mile to either TRUMPPS or CITY HEAT, sit down for a minute & have a few drinks, then back in the trucks, heading back east, passing by ALL-STARS & parking at HOT TAMALES. We usually stayed there til close or went BACK to ALL-STARS, then hit THE ZOO after hours joint til about 5 or 6 am. We would do that shit EVERYFUCKINGDAY. Proof was half-vampire. U know who we would see on our strip club adventures? Besides strippers, smart ass. Royce Da 5’9″. Almost everyday. That’s why I never understood why that beef got so out of hand. We wouldn’t sit together at the clubs or share bottles & shit but we were cordial. How him & Proof went from us being in the same spots daily to them pulling mags on each other in the street is beyond me b/c that beef could have been squashed at anytime. Anyway, the reason I mention Royce is that he’s part of the reason one of my favorite Proof stories even happened.

One day Proof called me at about 10 am an UNHEARD of time for either of us to be awake, unless we didn’t go to sleep from the night before. Proof was going to get dropped off at a celebrity basketball game to watch Royce perform & he wanted me to meet him there. It was my man Ron Rice’s event who played safety for the Detroit Lions at the time. I had actually played football in high school with Ron so I agreed. I got up there & it was at a some school gym. It was pretty packed. Royce was supposed to perform at halftime but the DJ equipment they had there kept fucking up. After one of Royce’s two twin dj’s made 2 or 3 attempts to start the show, me & Proof went & said our farewells to Royce & Ron & left.
Proof wanted to get his jewelry cleaned or check on a piece at Hutch’s spot Diamond Castle in Northland Mall so we headed that way. When we got there & were walking in Proof started talking shit about how big my feet were & how I always wore Timberlands & all white Air Force 1’s. I told him I wore a 12 like a real N**** & I wasn’t gonna be standing in front of a damn shoe rack for an hour trying to decide what shoes to wear. He said something slick back & we argued back & forth good naturedly as we walked through the parking lot into the mall. Once we got into Northland we made a beeline for the jewelry spot, bullshitted w/ Hutch for a minute while Proof got his jewelry cleaned & then we left. Back out in the mall hallway Proof wanted to stop in Champs Sports for a minute & I went in some store that sold leather jackets or some shit. After I looked at some high priced coats I had no intention of buying, I went back to Champs & Proof was on the way out carrying two bags filled w/ shoeboxes. “12, right?” he said. “Here”, & pushed one of the bags at me. “Get some color in your life.” Proof kept walking while I looked in the bag, lifted one corner of the shoebox & peered inside. He had bought me some orange on white Nike Air Force 1 lows. I caught up to him & thanked him, which he brushed off. Then we got in my truck & headed for the strip club.

Fucking Proof.

That was an example of good Proof. Generous, good hearted dude. But PROOF would definitely do some crazy shit & put u in a cross unintentionally.

Like this one time …

Proof asked me to do some shit that only he could pull off, like bringing a member of the WuTang Clan & his whole travel party into the studio before an Eminem private session without telling Em or the owner. Shit, I wasnt even supposed to be at the studio when Em was recording, & Proof wanted me to meet a buncha StatenIsland dudes & take tbem into the sudio to wait for him. Some real Proof shit. Needless to say, Em showed up before Proof, & I ended up looking like an asshole. That didn’t end well.

Fucking Proof.

I could go into it deeper, but I ain’t. I did that on the first draft.

But this says it all…

One day Proof & his right hand man 1st Born came over my crib. They brought some Corona’s & we sat on the porch talking shit & drinking beer. I saw my brother driving on the other side of the island & said, ” There goes Ra”. Suddenly Proof lept off the porch & ran & clambered up the tree in my yard like a little spidermonkey. I found out later that his intention was to jump on my brother’s head. Me & 1st yelled at him, while my brother made the turn around the island towards my house. “Dog, what the fuck are you doing?” I yelled as he inched out on a limb. My brother parked & got out his truck looking up at Proof quizzically while he hung upside down from my tree limb. Suddenly the limb snapped & Proof came crashing down on his back & laid there for a second still clutching the tree limb. Everybody was too stunned to speak. We didn’t say shit, we just stared at Proof, lying on the grass holding that broken limb. He didn’t say shit either, he just laid there. Finally I said, “You ok, dog?” When I broke the silence, Proof jumped into action.

He bit my tree.

I repeat, he bit my tree.

This crazy muthafucka BIT my tree.

Then he yelled, “1st! Lets go”. Proof grabbed the wayward piece of tree, threw it in the back of his gray Yukon, & jumped in the driver’s seat, starting the vehicle while 1st climbed in the passenger side. My brother & I watched, confused, as they backed out of my driveway at a high speed. For some reason I ran to my ride & chased after them. I have no idea why. The word ” STUPID” comes to mind. The 96 freeway was right by my house & we both jumped on it, beading East. Two Yukon trucks, my older model & his newer flying down the freeway weaving in & out of traffic. At one point 1st pushed the damn branch out onto the road. Luckily I and the cars behind me avoided the limb & averted disaster. I chased Proof all the way to the East side, to Kilbourne & Gratiot. Dogmatic’s crib, where Sicknotes studio was. We laughed about that stupid-ass Dukes of Hazard bullshit we just did and drank some more beer & talked more shit on into the night. Little did I know that this tree debacle was just beginning.

Later that night around 3am I was in my house when I heard gunshots. Close gunshots. Like REAL close. In my front yard close. I grabbed my heater & peeked out my window & made out two figures. Proof & 1st Born. One of them knocked & I flew down the steps & flung open my front door. “What the fuck are ya’ll doing?” Proof grinned at me. “Me & your tree are beefing”, he said. “So I shot it”.

Fucking Proof.

He took this tree beef shit serious too. He attacked my man Marvwon’s bushes because he said that they were down with my tree. He sent me a fucking postcard from Norway talking shit about trees. & he didn’t just shoot my tree that one time. He shot it ALL the time. One time I had some chick over & there it went. ” POW! POW! POW!” The woman was startled. ” What the fuck! Is somebody shooting on your porch?” “Calm down”, I replied. “That’s just Proof shooting my tree.” Needless to say that was the last time I saw her.

Fucking Proof.

That’s only 3 stories, I probably have over a 100 more. Everybody who knew him has a couple Proof stories in the chamber. Those are 3 of my personal favorites. I just wanted to share that shit w/ u guys so u could get past all that 1/6 of D12, 1/3 of 5 Ela & The Goon Sqwad, 1/2 of Promatic & Funky Cowboy & T-Stuckey’s man shit. Proof was 1/1. U know how I said that Proof was THE MAN STANDING NEXT TO THE MAN? Those who didn’t know him might see it that way, but he was THE MAN to me.

I miss that dude.

Fucking Proof.

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