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Justin Brake
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Eminem's crew is coming to town

Memorial University's student union (MUNSU) is sending students off for the summer with a serious party.

On April 28 it will host its last concert of the academic year at the campus bar, The Breezeway. The act? None other than Eminem's Detroit hip-hop supergroup D12, a.k.a. "The Dirty Dozen."

Eminem fans shouldn't get too excited though - the group is touring without him while he wraps up work on "Relapse," his forthcoming album and first project in five years.

D12 as it was in 2005 (from left): Proof, Swift, Bizarre, Kuniva, Kon Artis and Eminem. Proof, a.k.a. DeShaun Holton, was shot in April 2006. The surviving members, minus Eminem, will play MUN's Breezeway Tuesday. - Submitted photo

Memorial University's student union (MUNSU) is sending students off for the summer with a serious party.

On April 28 it will host its last concert of the academic year at the campus bar, The Breezeway. The act? None other than Eminem's Detroit hip-hop supergroup D12, a.k.a. "The Dirty Dozen."

Eminem fans shouldn't get too excited though - the group is touring without him while he wraps up work on "Relapse," his forthcoming album and first project in five years.

Similarly, D12 has laid low since the group's second album "D12 World" took the hip hop world by storm, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 chart and selling a half-million copies in the first week of its release back in 2004.

Five years ago, Eminem and D12 were on fire both independently and collectively. But tragedy struck in 2006 when founding group member DeShaun Holton, better known as "Proof," was shot and killed in a club on Detroit's 8 Mile Road immediately after an altercation during which he fatally wounded another man.

The death of a close friend and group member due to gun violence was something they had already struggled through.

Just seven years prior, Karnail Pitts, or "Bugz," was shot and killed in Detroit's Belle Isle Park.

With two platinum-plus albums but two men down, the group's future was in question as they coped with the second D12 death. Now, after a five-year hiatus, there's finally talk of a return from the somewhat self-imposed exile.

The Telegram recently spoke with D12 member Kuniva on the phone from his home in Detroit. During the interview he talked about Proof's death, Em's new projects, D12's highly anticipated return to the scene, and their first visit to Newfoundland.

"I'm feelin' good man, excited about comin'," Kuniva, whose real name is Von Carlisle, says with seemingly genuine optimism. "Just ready to perform, to show the people out there what's up. We lookin' forward to it and gettin' ready to come rip it down for you."

Though D12 formed in 1990, it wasn't until Eminem achieved mainstream success, established himself as an internationally renowned rap artist, and started his own record label, Shady Records, that the group finally rose to fame.

In 2001 they released "Devil's Night" and the Shady Records pilot record debuted at the top of the Billboard charts and achieved platinum status record sales in several countries, including Canada.

They followed up with "D12 World" and maintained their popularity, both internationally and atop the highly competitive Detroit rap and hip-hop scene.

But everything seemed to come crashing down on April 11, 2006, when Kuniva, Bizarre, Kon Artis, Swift, and Eminem got word of Proof's untimely death.

"We kinda fell apart because of what happened ... mentally and a little bit physically," Kuniva says recalling the day. "We kind of lost it because Proof meant so much to this group.

"It takes a lot of regrouping and that's what we're doing now-we're really getting back on our feet, dustin' ourselves off, and standin' up. We gotta keep goin' for him because that's what he would do. But it really took down a lot of morale ... and we're buildin' it back up now. We're out there every night with those fans and they're lettin' us know that they got our backs and they're right there with us, so our confidence is comin' up ... and the music is therapeutic for us - it helps us get through the tough times."

The group has been back in the studio, working on material for a mixtape called "Return of the Dozen, Volume II," which they plan to release for digital download online sometime in May, according to Kuniva.

But the main priority right now, he admits, is Eminem getting "Relapse" and "Relapse II" out within the year.

"After Em's albums come, then you know, D12 is comin' right after that. So right now we all rootin' for Em, and we're just happy that he's in a good space right now where he's creatin' and gettin' ready to put out another album."

Asked if D12 as a four-member group touring without Eminem feels like an anomaly, Kuniva is candid in his response.

"Em's in so much demand, doin' so many different things, and we're doin' so many things. We've always done our own tours and then hop on the Anger Management Tour with Em," he explains. "So we've become accustomed to doin' our shows without Em, and it's a good thing actually because the crowd gets to know more about us and we get to showcase ourselves more.

"Everyone knows who Em is and there's always that shadow above, the Eminem shadow. We love bein' in that shadow because it's cooler in the shade, but sometimes we still want to be noticed, and still want to be known for our skills, also. It's also a real good thing to be with him, so we get the best of both worlds 'cause we can do both and the crowd still accepts us and we can still give a great show."

When the new tracks are thrown down, says Kuniva, fans are going to hear a more mature D12. "It's gonna be the same D12 formula, but we gonna put some more potent recipes up in this formula.

"We just showin' maturity in the music because we growin' up now because we seen a lot of things, and we just takin' it like that."

Those who attend The Breezeway show are in for a treat, he promises, because the group plans to showcase some new material.

"Expect the unexpected. Just be open-minded when you come to a D12 show, because it's gonna be crazy."

Tickets for the 19+ show are $20 plus tax and available at The Breezeway or the MUNSU Copy Centre, both in MUN's University Centre. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Organizations: The Breezeway, MUNSU Copy Centre, Anger Management Tour University Centre

Geographic location: Detroit, 8 Mile Road, Belle Isle Park Newfoundland Canada MUN

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  • Darrell
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    What? D12? I guess Trooper was already booked?

  • Darrell
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    What? D12? I guess Trooper was already booked?