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Garcia feted by rapper


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From the LA times:


From the World of Rap, a Tip of the Cap to Jerry Garcia


Eminem may not have much respect for Moby. But one of his close associates is paying sincere if unlikely homage to another bespectacled rock star.

Proof, a rapper in Eminem's posse, D12, has made a solo album, "Searching for Jerry Garcia," that takes an earnest and sympathetic look at the life and death of the late Grateful Dead leader.

Due Nov. 26 from Proof's own Iron Fist Records label, the album also features references to such other deceased icons as John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Marvin Gaye.

"My quest in life is I'm searching for Jerry Garcia, and my feeling is everyone is, because he died from a combination of drugs, stress and diet, which are things everyone has to deal with," Proof says. "Drugs can be something like too much TV, it doesn't have to be real drugs.

"Everybody is going to take [the references] at face value, but there's a bigger picture there."

Of all the fallen rock heroes, the portly, bearded hippie guru Garcia, who died of a heart attack while in a drug rehabilitation facility in 1995 at age 53, seems an odd object of sympathy for a young urban rapper. But Proof (who is also sometimes known by his alternate identity, Dirty Harry) is a true fan.

"I just became one in the last two years," he says. "I happened to be chillin' at my manager's house, and he's a Deadhead and I was sitting watching a documentary on Jerry Garcia and he reminded me of myself. He went and did jazz albums, he did a range of music. I thought, 'Great.'

"Next thing I know I got sucked in all the way. He never did the same kind of show, always played something different. His attitude was, '[Never mind] selling records, let's go rock these people.' That's my attitude. It's not a matter of selling a million records. It's go where the people are at. They gonna follow you anyway."

To carry the theme further, Proof commissioned album art by Philip Garris, who painted the cover for the Dead's 1975 album, "Blues for Allah," and other items for the band.

Although Garcia is the central presence for the album (which features appearances by the rest of D12 as well as Nelly Furtado), each song is titled after a different figure, with subtitles keyed to the lyrics. "John Lennon: 'One on One' " explores the dark side of fan worship. "Kurt Cobain: 'Take It Back' " addresses the mountain of regrets that could lead to suicide.

"It's talking about all the things in my life that I wish I could take back," Proof says. "Things I did with D12, friends I had and lost, and in the end [wanted] to kill myself. Kurt is somebody I could understand."

The songs don't use samples of the title artists' music, nor are they meant to be musical tributes, he stresses.

"It's just my appreciation for them and what they've done in my life," he says. "I don't want to get all crazy here, but I believe every person has their own world, and they don't collide, but bridge. I never got to meet Kurt Cobain, but this song is our bridge between our worlds."


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