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Proof "Searching For Jerry Garcia" Album Review From Epinions.com

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  • Proof "Searching For Jerry Garcia" Album Review From Epinions.com

    Proof channels the spirit of Jerry Garcia on his debut


    If you were to take a look at the list of the most underrated Detroit emcees, one emcee who would be considerably close to the top of the list is Proof (a.k.a Derty Harry). Most people outside of the Detroit area should know who he is, if not as one half of the duo Promatic with fellow rapper Dogmatic, then as one sixth of D12, which also includes Kon Artis, Kuniva, Bizarre, Swifty McVeigh, and Eminem. When Eminem became famous after signing with Dr. Dre in 1999, he promised to put the others on and thatís what he did, signing them to his newly formed record label, Shady Records. But itís not as if Proof can't survive without Em. Aside from hosting battles at The Hip-Hop Shop, Proof was one of Detroit's wildest wordsmiths; an amazing freestyle emcee who won the The Source's 1999 freestyle competition. So now, after two D12 albums, each member of the group will be releasing their solo albums (except Kon Artis and Kuniva, who will release an album as a duo known as Da Brigade). Bizarre was the first on the list, as his album "Hannicap Circus" was released at the end of June. And up second, Proof finally gets his turn; after the release of his rare six track EP "Electric Cool-aid Acid Testing", and two underground mixtapes, Proof finally releases his long awaited debut album, "Searching For Jerry Garcia", on his own label, Iron Fist Records.

    For all you Hip-Hop fans who donít know the individual in the albumís title, Iíll give you a short biography of him. Jerry Garcia is a rock musician, known for various projects, but most famous as the guitarist and primary singer of the psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead. Garcia's electric-guitar playing melded elements from the various kinds of music that had enthralled him, including bluegrass, early rock, contemporary blues, country/western, and jazz; his style varied somewhat according to the song or instrumental he was contributing to. Garcia died on August 9th, 1995, due to heart trouble. According to Proof, the reason he named the album after him is because Garciaís death was due to a combination of stress, drugs and poor diet, which are problems that everyone can relate to in one way or another. If youíre expecting this album to sound like his work with D12, then youíre in for a surprise. The album, released on the ten year anniversary of Garciaís death, deals with the concept of Proofís search for himself, which includes an introspective outlook on his life, as well as eclectic mix of styles and topics that could conform listeners from other genres, which is reminiscent of what Garcia himself would do. Though the album hasnít gotten as much hype as and Eminem record would get, "Searching For Jerry Garcia" has been greatly anticipated by many in the underground scene, including myself, as it sounded like it would be a groundbreaking record, not to mention itís release has been planned since 2002 (the original tentative release date was 2/18/03). They will be happy to know that he indeed delivers; this album is true to who Proof is and what he represents.

    1. Knice (NOT RATED)
    2. Clap Wit Me (4 1/2 Stars)
    3. Biboa's Theme (5 Stars)
    4. When God Calls (NOT RATED)
    5. Forgive Me feat. 50 Cent (5 Stars)
    6. Purple Gang feat. Killa Kaunn, Famous, and T Flame (3 1/2 Stars)
    7. Nat Morris (NOT RATED)
    8. Girls Wit Da Boom (1 1/2 Stars)
    9. High Rollers feat. B-Real and Method Man (5 Stars)
    10. Rondell Beene (NOT RATED)
    11. Pimplikeness feat. D12 (4 Stars)
    12. Ali feat MC Breed (5 Stars)
    13. No. T. Lose feat King Gordy (5 Stars)
    14. Jump Biatch (5 Stars)
    15. Mom & Dad feat Rude Jude (5 Stars)
    16. 72nd & Central feat. Obie Trice and J-Hill (5 Stars)
    17. Sammy Da Bull feat. Nate Dogg and Swifty McVeigh (5 Stars)
    18. Black Wrist Bro's feat. 1st Born (5 Stars)
    19. Slum Elementz feat. Kon Artis, T-3 of Slum Village, and Mudd of 5 Ela (5 Stars)
    20. Kurt Kobain (5 Stars)

    After a pointless intro, the album begins right away with "Clap Wit Me". On this jump off track, Proof basically reintroduces himself to the game. The production is handled by Emile, and itís really dope. The song is based around a sample of "Total Satisfaction" by Brief Encounter. As I said before, this is just a basic jump off track, but that doesnít mean it isnít dope Proof shows love to all his Hip-Hop friends (he doesnít drop half as many names as Game does though) and lets us know that now itís his time to shine on his own. Lyrically, Proof is solid but predictable, giving us what you might already expect from him. Despite that fact, itís a good song. Proof continues to go in the right direction with the next track "Biboa's Theme". The production on this one contains an electric guitar loop and some rapid electric piano keys. Like most of the production on the album, itís different than what you normally hear from when Proof is with D12, but still very dope. As good as the last track was lyrically, this track is much better, as we see the full effect of his abilities through his multi-syllable rhyme scheme packed with humorous punchlines. His sarcastic but focused braggadocio will definitely remind the inexperienced listener of the old Eminem: "Speaking at A.A. meetings while intoxicated / training an armless fighter to box in Vegas / plot with haters to kill me on my block for later / having free phone sex with operators". This song also has the only reference to the Grateful Dead front man on the entire album ("Who the fuck is Jerry? Iím searching for weed"). These two tracks provide an excellent opening to this album, and shows us what you can look forward to.

    Named after the Detroit anti-prohibition group from 1918, the Purple Gang is another crew that Proof is tight with, made up of Killa Kaunn, Famous, T Flame, and 1st Born. And on this album, they get their own to shine. Three of the four members are featured on the track named after the group, "Purple Gang", as they give us their own form of a club song. On this one, Kaunn, Famous, and Flame spit commercially-oriented verses over a bouncy beat. Lyrically, they're all okay, but for the most part, they're carried by the beat, which is produced by B.R. Gunna. Overall, the track is decent, but in all honesty, it doesnít belong on this album at all, because Proof isn't even on this song except for the intro, where he speaks as DJ Seven Deuce to introduce the Gang. In fact, he probably could've made the song a whole lot better if he had a verse. However, "Black Wrist Bros", which appears later on in the album, does belong because not only is Proof on this song, but it is extremely dope as well. 1st Born, the one member of Purple Gang who wasn't on the song mentioned earlier in this paragraph, joins Proof as they denounce the player and pledge their loyalty to each other. Jewels mans the boards for this one, giving us a rugged beat with a descending bass line and some rapid string samples, as well as some piano keys on the chorus. Itís kind of like "Loyalty" from "D12 World", except a whole lot tighter lyrically and production-wise.

    You might be wondering 'Proofís showing all this love to Purple Gang, but what about his crew D12?' Well, they all join Proof on the pimp anthem ďPimplikenessĒ. On this track, D12 (minus Kon Artis) try to explain why each one of them is "something like a pimp". I know what youíre saying, 'great, just what we need, your obligatory misogynistic song'. Yes I understand what your saying but honestly, for the most part, the song is dope. The production had a VERY funky feel, thanks to the live instrumentation on this song. The guitar, trumpet, saxophone, and trombone give it a real distinct atmosphere. As for the lyricism, it kinda went up and down throughout the track. Proof goes first, giving us a decent but enjoyable verse lyrically. The track is then taken to new heights, as we see two hilarious verses, which end up being the two best verses on the whole track, from Kuniva ("Now what do you tell a chick who has two black eyes? / You ain't gotta tell her nothin', you just told her twice") and Swifty McVeigh ("See, I tell a bitch quick if you knew better, you'd do better") but thatís about it. Eminem and Bizarre pick up the slack, spitting two wack verses; Iím not kidding when I say this: this is the one of the WORST verses of Eminem's entire career! Don't believe me? Take a look: "Well I'm not a pimp or a player, see I'm more like the mayor / grab a bitch up by her hair like I just don't care / and swing her in the air, I'm talkin' major ass kick / toss a bitch out the house like Kwamae Kirkpatrick / I'm a pimp so I gives a fuck about a bitch / but I don't make 'em trick, I'm rich". I mean for god's sakes, he even resorts to biting Kid Rock, using a line that was similar to one Rock had in a rap over two years ago! As bad as Em's verse is though, Bizarre still ends up being the worst on the track overall. The track for the most part is dope but when you get to Em's and Bizzy's verses, skip ahead to the next track.

    As you can see from the previous paragraph, the album DOES have its share of unoriginal topics but Proof manages to flip it fresh and make most of the songs enjoyable. For example, "High Rollers" seems like your obligatory weed song, and even if it is, it's still very dope (no pun intended). On this one, Proof is joined by fellow weed smokers, B-Real (of the group Cypress Hill) and Method Man. The beat, which is produced by B-Real, features some light synthesizers and horn loops and a low guitar loop, and altogether, it sounds very tight. Both B-Real and Proof give us great verses, but Method Man surprisingly blows them both away with an extremely lyrical verse packed with multi-syllables. It's a fun track to listen to, if nothing else. "No. T. Lose" also has some clichťd subject matter, but its still an enjoyable song. Backed by a fast beat with rising and falling synthesizers, Proof spits three multi-syllable verses about fist fighting in the club. Proof shines here with his clever wordplay, while King Gordy gives us a catchy hook. In all honesty, despite the few clichťd subjects, all the songs here are dope, except for the album's first single, "Girls Wit Da Boom". Backed by an absolutely horrid beat, Proof spits about sexy girls with fat asses. The beat is bad, but Proof's lyricism is the epitome of wackness. With the right promotion, this track could see some radio play, but to the fans who DON'T listen to the radio, it's a very disappointing track, especially by proof's standards, and can't hold a candle to some of the other mainstream oriented songs on this record, like "Pimplikeness" or "Purple Gang".

    Named after the person who testified against John Gotti in court, "Sammy Da Bull" is an especially interesting track, because of its subject matter and what it might mean. Backed by a dramatic beat featuring rising and falling strings, Proof and fellow D12 member Swifty McVeigh rap about fake gangsta rappers that are just cowardly snitches, and are praised for their fake image. Both rappers are on top of their game lyrically, as they both spit the truth how phony shit in the industry is. Swifty especially rips it up, as he kinda twists a story into the whole concept. Nate Dogg also shows up to deliver the catchy hook, like he's known for. Now, you can call me crazy, especially since he appears on this album, but this whole track sounds like it could be aimed at 50 Cent. It was never said that this one was assumed to be at one specific person in particular but if it was, who else could it be about? It is widely assumed by many that 50 Cent is a snitch and lines like "If you tell the masses, you tell the cops" are lines that point to that assumption. I'm not saying he is 'cause I wasn't there, but certain things about this song describe 50's image and show exactly why some people don't trust him. Some have also said that Nate Dogg's hook also points to 50 being the focal point of the song because of the line "3000 miles away and I can hear you still", because New York is 3000 miles away from Cali. Some also consider the interlude at the end to be about 50 too, since he got signed after he was shot ({Gun cocks, 5 gunshots} "Is he still alive?" "Yeah, yeah, I think so." "Alright, great, let's sign him!"). If it isn't about 50, then that interlude is a diss to the industry and how they search for the latest gimmick (like a gangsta rapper who's been shot, for example). I was going to ask Proof about this song myself, as he was on Shade 45 on Tuesday and they were taking phone calls, but I didn't get to the phone in time so I couldn't. Whether or not it is actually aimed at 50 cent is up to you, but either way, the track is still one of best on the album.

    "Jump Biatch" is the return to the dark humor that we originally heard on the first D12 album "Devilís Night". On this one, Proof meets a girl named Nikki, a crack head who gets abused physically and sexually by her father, and decides to fuck with her. After getting her high and drunk, he takes her to the top of a fourteen-story building and tries to convince her to jump off. He does as much as he can to get her to kill herself, even dancing on the edge of the building to show her it's 'safe'. In the end, he trips while dancing on the edge and accidentally falls himself. The production is composed of some dramatic piano keys and some synthesizers that sound like kazoos. Some people might think the beat is annoying, but the humorous story will overshadow the production and entertain you nonetheless. "M.A.D. (Mom & Dad)" is another touch on the dark humor from the "Devil's Night" days. In the intro, proof proudly proclaims "We are fucking drug addicts!", which will show you what your in for. On this one, Proof talks about the bad things he did as a kid that he kept from his parents, which include drugs. Proof's lyricism is top-notch once again, as he gives us a few humorous scenarios. The production is top-notch as well, and is driving by some guitars and electronic keyboards, sounding VERY much like something The Grateful Dead would do. The whole song is topped off with a catchy hook that has Proof taking the forefront with Rude Jude giving some adlibs. Its another standout track on this excellent album. --
    BIG PROOF FOREVER!!

    'THE MAYORS KIDS' COMING SOON...

  • #2
    Though as good as Proof is with dark humor, he sounds the best when he paints a dark, introspective picture of his life, and he does just that on two specific tracks. The first of the two is "Forgive Me". The production, provided by the much underrated Sicknotes, is composed of some more tight live instrumentation, including pianos, bongos, and an electric guitar on the hook. Multi-platinum Shady/Aftermath artist 50 Cent is featured on the hook, which is actually reprised from "Ghetto Quran" off of 50ís first album, "Power of the Dollar". Anyway, this track finds Proof regretting all the bad things heís done in his life and now asking the Lord to forgive him for his sins. Yes, I know itís not a very original subject, but Proof flips it fresh and gives us a dope track, with his descriptive lyricism. The second of the two is the album's best track, "Kurt Kobain", named after the lead singer of the grunge band Nirvana who supposedly killed himself. The dope production is based entirely around a sample of "Blue Sky and Silver Bird" by Lamont Dozier (which was also sampled by Atmosphere on "Woman with the Tattooed Hands"). As you could probably tell by the title, Proof is writing a suicide note, once again regretting his sins but now knowing it's too late to take them back. So, before he goes, he's sending his goodbyes to all the people he loves, including his fans, his parents, the other members of D12, and others. My personal favorite line in the whole song is when he reaches out to Eminem with his words of wisdom: "Don't let this money change us dawg!". The track ends with Proof shooting himself and then giving us his dying words, which sound like "Love... killed... me..." but honestly, its kinda hard to tell. This one can't be explained through words, you'd have to hear it on your own.

    So what's the final verdict? From murder to encouraged suicide to drug use, "Searching for Jerry Garcia" is a dope album that finds a middle ground between underground Detroit sound and the mainstream radio sound. A lot of the subject matter wasn't anything new, but that doesn't make the album bad at all. While the first half did struggle a bit, with a four worthless skits and a few musical missteps (which included one God awful song), everything after "Pimplikeness" was outstanding. Unfortunately, I can't give this album a classic rating. I expected a lot from this album, and while it was an excellent effort and delivered in most aspects, it just barely misses classic status (I was seriously anticipating this to be album of the year). The one thing that disappointed me the most was that the original album concept was mostly scrapped. See, when Proof originally started this album, he was going to name each song on the album after an iconic person or place that he feels reflects the song's theme. Though he kept a few of those songs, such as "Kurt Kobain", "Sammy Da Bull" and "72 & Central" (named after the place where John Lennon was shot and killed), other reported songs, such as "Janis Joplin", "Ike Turner", and "Billie Holiday" are nowhere to be found. The album is dope as it is, but if he went through with the old plan completely, he was setting up for an immediate classic IMO. Still, when you get right down to it, Proof gives us a overly solid debut that's worthy of your purchase, as he builds a separate identity for himself away from D12 and gives us an album that is different and interesting enough to stand out from the rest of his peers.

    FINAL RATING: 4 1/2 Stars

    Recommended
    Yes
    BIG PROOF FOREVER!!

    'THE MAYORS KIDS' COMING SOON...

    Comment


    • #3
      wow dats long!! but tanx!!
      R.I.P. Proof
      1973-2006

      Comment


      • #4
        Thx. for postin!
        Thats really a nice review and the songs are rated pretty good! So true that Proof is one of the most underrated Mcs in Detroit!
        FREEDOM IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE !
        Janis Joplin

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