- D 12
Critics and fans alike have tussled with the dichotomy that is Detroit rap urchin Eminem. Is he artist or thug? Shocker or realist? Bigot or satirist? It's a creative conundrum perpetrated by Eminem's corrupt alter ego, Slim Shady. Supporters feel justified in labeling Slim Shady's violent rap narratives an artistic parody of our Jerry Springer-fueled times.
But Eminem's latest side project, D12, hasn't been so lucky. D12 (a.k.a. the Dirty Dozen) is a collection of six hardcore Detroit rappers, each with his own alter ego. Denaun Porter (Kon Artis), Proof (Derty Hairy), Swift (Swifty McVay), Kuniva (Rondell Beene), and Bizarre (Peter S. Bizarre) all hooked up with Slim Shady in 1990, before Eminem's solo infamy. The group then made a pact that, if one of them hit it big, he would come back to help the others. True to his word, Eminem signed the group to his Shady Records -- a vanity label on Interscope that Eminem was awarded after selling over 10 million records -- and executive-produced the group's 2001 effort Devil's Night. Dark and dirty, the album is a compilation of outrageous and caustic raps that promote either drugs ("Purple Pills"), violence ("Pistol Pistol"), or the debasement of homosexuals, women, and the group's enemies (i.e., pretty much everyone). Backed by sinister, West Coast-style production, D12 spouts disturbing rhymes like "I ain't got no food/My job, I've been cheated/My girlfriend had a miscarriage/I had to eat it," which Bizarre delivers on "American Psycho." Group members maintain their lyrics only personify the country's obsession with sensationalistic media and the urban ruggedness of their hometown. But critics have razed D12 as purely shock rap, even though the same shady formula has landed its only white member three Grammys -- a brazenly prejudiced double standard for other artists using the same approach to sell records. Onstage, D12 performs sans Slim Shady, even though his mug adorns posters for the tour -- a final attempt to lend some credibility to Eminem's caricatured cronies.