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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Cypher In The Sky
Friday, April 14, 2006


This is getting out of hand. It seems every time I look up another member of the Hip-Hop community is leaving us far too soon. This year alone we’ve lost J Dilla, Professor X and now Proof. Personally, not taking anything away from the other two talented individuals who passed away, for me Proof is by far the biggest loss. I recently interviewed Proof and became friends with some of his people. Hearing the news that he passed away hit me hard. When Proof called me up for our interview I answered the phone like I normally do, “hello,” and what I heard on the other end of line was an ebullient Proof, “Hey man how’s it goin!” I knew it wasn’t going to be a normal interview at that point, it was almost like two old high school buddies catching up. I had always been a fan of Proof and fully appreciated what he’d done for the Hip-Hop community, but finding out he was this happy individual with a huge love of life was the added bonus that put him over the top in my book.

I’ve been seeing all these posts on message boards and articles on various websites talking about Proof and I’ve been noticing something, very few people have grasped how important Proof was to the Hip-Hop world. The loss of Proof is comparable to the loss of Eazy-E, who died of AIDS eleven years ago. Both Proof and Eazy were, and still remain, severely underappreciated, but to those in Hip-Hop Proof and Eazy were men who helped open up numerous doorways and changed our musical landscape.

In the 80’s Eazy-E brought together a group of young rappers and producers and created NWA. Most everyone knows how that turned out. NWA turned Ice Cube and Dr. Dre into household names that are still going strong today. Without Eazy there’s a very good chance NWA would have never happened. Does he get that kind of credit? Not normally. Let’s not forget, not only did Eazy help to create the gangsta rap scene and put California on the map in terms of Hip-Hop, but he also brought us Bone Thugs N Harmony and helped get Cleveland’s scene jumped off, as well.

In terms of getting scenes started and helping launch careers Proof was to Detroit what Eazy was to California. Before Proof there was no Hip-Hop scene in Detroit. If memory serves me right he opened the first Hip-Hop club there are hosted the area's first Hip-Hop battles. The Mekhi Phifer character in 8 Mile was based on Proof and while Proof was helping to get the city’s Hip-Hop scene going he was also taking a young white rapper under his wing, that white rapper was Eminem. A group was formed, D12, (the group has now lost two members as Bugz was killed a number of years ago, before the group gained any nationwide fame) Eminem gained worldwide fame, and all of a sudden Detroit became a major player in the Hip-Hop world.

It’s easy to see that without Proof there’d probably be no Eminem and without Eminem the landscape of music scene as we know it today would be significantly different. Proof is the reason we have Em. Proof is the reason there’s a Hip-Hop scene in Detroit. And did I mention, Proof is also one of the Top 10 MC’s of all-time.

I’ve always had Proof as one of my "Top Five MC’s Alive," but now that’s he’s passed away he gets moved to my "Top Ten MC’s of All-Time" list. His lyrical content has always been amazing, if you need evidence of that just check out his verses on the Promatic album, a classic that too few people have, and to go with that Proof was also a master at switching up his flow to the point where some folks might not even recognize him on certain songs because he’s altered it so much. Much like the way he created Detroit’s Hip-Hop scene the same theory went into his flow and lyricism, he did whatever needed to be done and he did it well.

To honor Proof I’ve put together a special tribute song of some of my favorite verses of his. I’ll be playing this tribute on my radio show tonight (7pm – 9pm EST on 88.5FM Fairfield, CT and streaming at wvof.org) immediately following the replay of my interview with him. I am also attempting to make the song available for download, for free, in the coming weeks.

Proof may have never become the household name other fallen rappers have but make no mistake he was, and will remain, a Hip-Hop legend.

Rest In Peace Proof.... you will be missed.
posted by Adam Bernard @ 10:28 AM  
1 Comments:
  • At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Flash said…

    Having lived in Eastern Michigan during some of those formative years (back to when you could still buy Eminem's Infinite in stores) his influence hits home very hard to me. I do and will continue to miss him greatly.

     
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