D12 (aka The Dirty Dozen) is an American rap group originating from Detroit, Michigan which have had albums reach the top of the US and UK album charts - Devil's Night in 2001 and D12 World in 2004. D12 was formed in 1990, but they only came into the hip hop spotlight when their most accomplished member, Eminem, had risen to international fame and notoriety in the early part of the 21st century.
D12 was initially formed in 1990 by Proof who invited local Detroit rappers such as Bizarre, Eminem and other members who would leave the crew before it achieved success including Eye Kyu, Killa Hawk and Fuzz. The group was a loose collective. Several members began making names for themselves in hip hop during the late 1990s. Bizarre was named Inner City Entertainment's "Flava of the Week". He would also release an album entitled Attack Of The Weirdos and become a member of Tha Outsidaz with Eminem and Rah Digga. Proof won a freestyling competition run by The Source in 1998.
However, it was as a solo artist that D12 member Eminem found success. All of the members of D12 have aliases and Eminem chose Slim Shady as his. He recorded an independent EP called The Slim Shady EP in 1997 and after signing to Interscope Records released his breakthrough album The Slim Shady LP which went on to sell over four million records in the US.
Eminem's success persuaded Proof to establish D12 on a more permanent basis in early 1999. As well as Eminem and Bizarre, he recruited Kuniva, Kon Artis and Bugz to join the group. Kuniva and Kon Artis were previously part of Da Brigade. However, Bugz was murdered at a picnic in Detroit leading the band to recruit Swift to take his place. Each of the members of the crew wears a tattoo of Bugz name in his honor. The tracks "Good Die Young" and "Bugz 97" on D12 World are also in his memory.
The six members of D12 signed a contract with Eminem's Shady Records and Interscope in 1999. The fact that D12 rose to prominence after Eminem led many people to assume that the other members had less significance in the group - this very accurate conception would be the concept of the group's 2004 hit single "My Band".
Although originally marketed under the concept that the critically and comercially lauded rapper Eminem was merely one of D12's numbers and that they were all of equal skill as artists - effectively six Eminems - this myth was quickly dispelled upon hearing their debut album, in which it was clear that although the group can claim to have one of the all-time greatest Hip Hop lyricists among their ranks, the other five members are distinctly average in their abilities.
In spite of Eminem frequently re-iterating that he is first and foremost a member of D12 and that the other members are anything but merely his back-up group, D12 has recently began to tour as a seperate entity to Eminem, a controversial move that could lead to confusion among concert-goers who may believe they are paying to see Eminem as well as the other five performers.
Their debut album, Devil's Night, referring to the old Detroit tradition of setting abandoned buildings on fire (something that has since become a thing of the past in Detroit) the night before Halloween, was released in June 2001. It debuted at number one on the US and UK chart, also reaching the top of the Canadian charts. Devil's Night went on to sell four million albums worldwide and two million in the US.
The group's second album was D12 World released on April 7, 2004 featured production by Dr. Dre, Eminem himself and Kanye West and guest appearances by Obie Trice and B Real. It debuted at the top of the US, UK and Australian album charts and number 2 in Germany, selling over half a million records in its first week of release in the US alone. "My Band", the first single, also has been successful reaching number one in Australia and the US rhythmic top 40, top 5 in the UK and Germany and top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As of 2005, D12 consists of six members:
Eminem aka Slim Shady;
Proof aka Dirty Harry;
Kon Artis also Mr. Denaun Porter;
Swift aka Swifty McVeigh;
Kuniva aka Rondell Beene; and
Bizarre, aka Peter S. Bizarre.
As each member of the crew has an alias (or alter ego) the number rounds up to an even dozen.
Past members of the group include Bugz, Eiy Kyu, Killa Hawk and Fuzz.