D12 Discuss Their History With Eminem, Battle Rap, Their New Mixtape & Freestyle (Video)

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D12 is an appropriate guest for a Halloween week edition of Sway In The Morning. Swifty McVay, Bizarre, and Kuniva swung through the kick it with Sway Calloway and Heather B, for what is one of the Dirty Dozen’s best interviews. In celebration of their upcoming Devil’s Night Mixtape (October 31), the trio went back in time to look at their role within a game-changing movement.

The discussion begins with a look at D12’s formation. Koniva recalls days with Mr. Porter (f/k/a Kon Artis) who were in a group called The Brigade. Mr. Porter maintains (rather humorously) that he was a soloist in those days. The three MCs take time to remember Bugz, who was shot before a 1999 concert. Bugz was responsible for Swifty’s (who was in a group called Rabies) joining the collective, and Eminem reuniting with the brothers amidst his own skyrocketing success.

Kuniva stresses that Sway is the first media member to get the story right—claiming that Swifty McVay was never Bugz’ replacement. Rather, he joined the group, and Em’ returned. “Bugz was already sayin’, ‘Yo, we gotta get Swift.’ So Swift was already on the way. When Bugz passed — the night he passed, we were all on Em’s tour bus. He had came back to Detroit; he was doing a show in Detroit. We was on his tour bus. We was all fucked up and shit [explaining that Bugz had died]. He said, ‘Yo, if y’all would have me, I’d be a member.’ Em’ wasn’t gonna be a member [but an affiliate]. When he passed, [Eminem] was like, ‘Yo, I gotta be with this.'” At that time, Eminem had signed with Dr. Dre and Aftermath Entertainment, reaching a higher plateau than his longtime brothers and performing partners. “He humbled himself and just asked. He didn’t have to do that shit. It was dope.”

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Eminem, while not present, is an important part of the discussion. The three Detroit, Michigan natives explain how Em’s role and hiatus with the group has been definitive to its legacy. All three artists mention how their relationship to Marshall Mathers, is collectively and individually, forever in question by fans, stans, and haters. In Detroit alone, all of D12 was pressured to help out the Hip-Hop community, before even their own brand was established within Shady/Interscope Records. The amount of CDs passed to these men, intended to be heard by Em’ sounds nothing short of staggering.

Near the 14:00 mark, Sway introduces some interesting history surrounding Eminem and D12’s ties to The Wake Up Show. He has Bizarre recall a battle in the Rap Olympics in the mid-90s. Bizarre says that he and industry veteran Wendy Day twisted Eminem’s arm to enter the contest and it was on that platform that Sway and King Tech discovered the young Marshall and gave him the platform where he was eventually heard by Dr. Dre. Bizarre says that had it not been for Sway and Tech, Em and D12 would not be where they are today. Sway also talks about other MCs, including Tech N9ne and J.U.I.C.E. whose freestyles made them major guests on the show, despite comparatively lower profiles than other guests.

At the 17:00 mark, Bizarre talks about revisiting his 2001 rhyme style. The MC was instrumental to the Devil’s Night album, and feels it was him at his best. He spits some of the “Fight Music” lines that made Dr. Dre a believer in the group’s platinum debut. (“You know why my hands are so numb? [No…] ‘Cause I fucked my grandma, and she didn’t come.”) As he sheepishly repeats the bars, Bizarre reveals how his own family—many of whom are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses—reacted. This gets the breakout from the group (along with Em’ and Proof) to explain his own style, and how he aims to return to form.

Speaking of Proof, Sway asks about the impact his 2006 murder had upon D12. Swifty reveals that the depression and “demons” following nearly ended the group. “[Proof’s murder] shaked our core to the fullest. That our heart, our brains…,” he says, comparing it to cubs being “lost in the wilderness.” The men explain how beyond a member, Proof’s presence and feedback uplifted the individual members of D12 on their respective paths.

The discussion moves to battling. Kuniva leads the pack in recalling some of the match-ups around Detroit, Michigan in the ’90s. Some battles included members of D12 squaring off against each other—with Eminem reportedly lighting up Kuniva, and Swifty McVay besting Bizarre. The crew recalls bringing a young Murda Mook and other prominent Battle Rap figures of today to events in the D way back.

Lastly, to close the segment (near the 37:00 mark) the group plays the 5 Fingers Of Death freestyle game. Not going in traditional order (they bounce around), some highlights include Bizarre responding (possibly accepting) to the Funk Volume challenge (which is also addressed in the interview), Swifty (and Biz’) going off the dome, and more punchlines than a borscht belt comic. For lovers of that introductory D12 style, this freestyle signals that Devils Night may smash a few beats, and some pumpkins.

While it’s in the above video, here is D12’s 5 Fingers Of Death freestyle all by its lonely:

Nearly a dozen years removed from D12 World, do you think D12 is poised to make another dent in the Rap consciousness? How do you feel about Bizarre, Swifty, and Kuniva against Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, and Jarren Benton?

Related: D12 Is Still Dirty, With Dozens & Dozens Of Punchlines In A New Freestyle (Video)