Eminem’s Rage Against The Machine Has Overshadowed The Sad Demise Of D12 (Video)
In less than a week, Eminem’s Kamikaze created a chain reaction of events in the Rap space. From one sneak-attack 13-track album, Marshall Mathers stirred the pot. On Labor Day, MGK responded to Em’s verse on “Not Alike” with some blistering bars and personal attacks on “Rap Devil.” Then, two days later, Joe Budden addressed Em’s diss on “Fall” by declaring himself a better MC over the last decade. Joe, a former Slaughterhouse member (who was signed to Shady Records with the quartet), also warned Eminem that if the Detroit, Michigan legend comes with a better diss that isn’t just a promotional vehicle for an album, he will respond with a retirement-ending Rap that will “cut your f*ckin’ ass up!”
However, for longtime fans of Eminem, there may be something on Kamikaze that is being eclipsed by all this anger and controversy. Eminem clears the table regarding his original group, D12. While Joe Budden (and later yesterday, KXNG Crooked) bemoan the recent demise of Slaughterhouse, Eminem is holding nothing back for his role in pulling the plug on a much more commercially successful group.
In the latest episode of TBD, host Justin “The Company Man” Hunte examines Eminem’s overlooked Kamikaze address to D12. In looking at one of the wildest weeks in 2018 for Hip-Hop fans, the Dirty Dozen analysis begins around 3:45.
Hunte unpacks “Stepping Stone,” a song produced by Eminem and longtime right-hand behind the boards Luis Resto. “It’s awesome hearing Eminem reminisce on [the D12] relationship. It’s also awful hearing confirmation that D12 over,” says The Company Man. That is a direct quote from the lyrics, as Eminem spits: “To my partners, I can’t say how sorry I am / This is not how I planned for our story to end I love all of you men / But I just can’t be the guy everybody depends / On for entire careers ’cause that’s not even fair / I will always be here, but that spark isn’t there / And I don’t know how to recapture that time and that era / I’ve tried hearkening back to, but I’m fightin’ for air / I’m barely chartin’ myself / Feels like I’m on the descent, but it was not my intent / To treat y’all like a stepping stone / Though I ain’t left no one behind, but we been down every road / Done all we possibly can, I know we kept our hopes up / But the longer we spend livin’ this lie that we live / The less is left for closure, so let’s let this go / It’s not goodbye to our friendship, but D12 is over.”
That excerpt acknowledges that Eminem feels his own challenges as a superstar looking to please the fans. He admits a decline following many negative responses to 2017’s Revival.
Although it has been nearly 15 years since D12’s sophomore album, D12 World, the group mattered to Rap in a big way. The first act besides Em released on Shady Records was two-for-two in going #1 on the charts. “Purple Pills” was an important crew moment in 2001, and 2004’s “My Band” went as far as reaching #6 on the charts. The crew benefited from Dr. Dre production on both releases, along with a College Dropout-era Kanye beat.
In the first verse of “Stepping Stone,” Eminem breaks down exactly why and when things went awry. “It’s 2002, everything was totally new / We were globally huge, watchin’ sales go through the roof / We wrote and we viewed it, Runyon Avenue soldiers included / A multitude of homies who would bounce for no good excuse / We were so bulletproof—wrote, souped and soaked in our youth / Thought we was runnin’ sh*t ’til we lost the sole of our shoe / The death of Doody broke us in two,” raps Em of a nickname he previously used for Proof on Recovery. “We were thrown for a loop, ain’t none of us know what to do / And at the time I was goin’ through my own struggles too / So I wasn’t in no condition to be coachin’ us through / Everyone tried to go solo, really nobody blew / I was hopin’ they do, so I ain’t have to shoulder the crew / The plan was put everyone in position so that they knew / How to stand on they own, and I don’t wanna open up wounds / I just noticed that umph was gone when we go in the booth / ‘Cause the truth is, the moment that Proof died, so did the group.”
After Proof was murdered in 2006, Eminem stepped out of D12. Prior to that, Bizarre had released 2005’s Top 50 Hannicap Circus. Proof had dropped three solo efforts, including 2005’s Searching For Jerry Garcia. MCs Kuniva and Swifty McVay had not enjoyed as notable solo success. Mr. Porter (fka DeNauN Porter and Kon Artis) had focused on production, often collaborating with Em.
Even before his unannounced exit, Eminem appeared distanced from the Dirty Dozen in the eyes of some. He did not participate in the group’s role on the 2001 Warped Tour following their #1 debut. Em also sat out 2005’s group cameo in Adam Sandler’s Longest Yard remake. Between 2007 and the early 2010s, reports swirled that Eminem was back in the studio with his Detroit brothers. In 2011, “Fame” released, reuniting the surviving members of the squad. However, on 2015’s Devil’s Night Mixtape, Marshall was not involved. However, since his superstardom, Em appeared on solo singles by Swifty, Proof, and Bizarre.
Em seems to address that period in the song’s second verse: “It was never the same, and it’s bothered me since / And the farther we drift apart, the more awkward it gets / The more time goes by, the more life happens / And we gotta be men, we got responsibilities / Plus we don’t say how we feel And I feel like this is what got us in the debacle we’re in / Been with you guys thick and thin / But it’s almost as if sometimes we’re not even friends / Which reminded me Biz, ‘Rockstar’ was the sh*t / Y’all coulda got you a hit without me on the sh*t / If you woulda put D12 on it, wish I coulda did / More than try talkin’ you into comin’ up off of it,” raps Em, alluding to Bizarre’s 2005 video single and potentially holding the group’s recording name hostage. “I know it wasn’t my fault, but part of it probably is / I think of all of the trips to BET And the rappers I wish that we woulda politicked with / Maybe y’all coulda clicked and got you some features / But that’s water under the bridge / But I’m washin’ my sins in it ’til my conscience is cleansed.” Notably, Joe Budden mentioned the fractured state of D12 to illustrate how the Shady Records co-founder treats his friends and artists.
In an era when André 3000’s bars said he was sorry to his OutKast partner Big Boi, Rock made a song apologizing to his late Heltah Skeltah co-founder Sean Price last year, Eminem’s new song is a touching farewell to a group that bound together from the Motor City to shake up the first half of the 2000s.