On Proof's Birthday, Detroit Legend Dogmatic Delivers "Living Proof" That Hip-Hop Is Alive And Well
If there were any justice in this unfair world, everyone would instantly recognize the name Dogmatic. After more than 20 years in the game, Dogmatic—the artist formerly known as K-Stone—has quietly carved out a place in Hip-Hop history.
Everyone knows that the late rapper Proof was tight with Detroit’s great white hope Eminem, but not everyone knows that Dogmatic was Proof’s true partner in rhyme. In the early 2000s, the longtime friends joined forces to form Promatic. The resulting self-titled album sold fairly well for an album released on an indie label (Koch Records), and features some of the most creative Hip-Hop stylings of the early millennium.
Sadly, Proof and Dogmatic never got a chance to repeat their initial success, as Proof was shot and killed back in 2006. Dogmatic intended his new album Living Proof to serve as both a tribute to his fallen comrade, as well as deliver a bold, in-your-face chronicle of a life of rhyme.
Appropriately, Living Proof is being released today (October 2), on what would have been Proof’s 39th birthday. The album, released through Canorous Records/Universal Music Group, is available at all major digital music retailers, including iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody.
AllHipHop.com caught up with Dogmatic to discuss his friendship with Proof, being there when the Geto Boys were recording “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”, and who really invented that whole “313” thing:
AllHipHop.com: Obviously Living Proof is more than a tribute to Proof. What are you trying to really say with this album?
Dogmatic: I’m just really trying to let people know that I’m living proof of Hip-Hop. I’ve been doing this since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and been pursuing it all the way to this point. I’m living proof that you can make it out of the ‘hood, and you can pursue your dreams. I’m living proof that if you keep going, you can bring Hip-Hop to the forefront.
AllHipHop.com: One of the greatest things about Living Proof is the “True Hip Hop Story” tracks you have sprinkled throughout the album. So, you were actually there in the studio when the Geto Boys were recording “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”?
Dogmatic: Yeah. Doug King, the Geto Boys’ producer, also produced two tracks on my first album. When I was met them, I was working with a producer who told me, “Hey, I know these guys in Houston who know a lot about Hip-Hop, and they’ll show you the ropes on what to do in the studio.” And I was only 16 at the time and just trying to get out of the ‘hood. My parents allowed me to go to Houston, and there it was. They were actually recording in a condo. The group was on the stairwell, and they had the mixing board and everything all set up in the living room and they were recording “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”. Of course, at the time I didn’t know what it was or what it would become, but not even a year later, I’m back in Detroit and I’m hearing this record all over the radio, and I’m like “Wow! I know these guys.” It was a really cool experience to be there and to see how Hip-Hop is done. And that experience is still with me now.
AllHipHop.com: Where did you live in Detroit?
Dogmatic: I grew up on 8 Mile near Livernois. When I was 19, I moved to the east side, on Gratiot near Outer Drive. I like to consider myself a ‘weast side' brother, because I’ve lived on both the west and the east sides of the city.
AllHipHop.com: When you were a teen and first getting into Hip-Hop, who were some of the other MCs you used to roll with, if any?
Dogmatic: Well, there were a lot of guys who were already getting going when I first started out. I opened up for Detroit’s Most Wanted. I hung out with them. Awesome Dre and I were tight. I was known as K-Stone back then, and I got a chance to get well-rounded with all of the Detroit guys.
AllHipHop.com: How did you and Proof meet?
Dogmatic: That’s going back a few years. I met Proof back in 1989. We were rapping over at B-Def’s place. I was starting to get a name for myself as K-Stone, and so I was invited to a freestyle event by B-Def. I saw this kid with dreadlocks, and he was just going on, and I said to myself, “Man! Who is this dude?” He was going by the name Maximum at the time, Maximum Proof. And he was dope. One of the dopest freestylers I’d ever heard.
We ended up becoming pretty tight after that night, and we want on to participate on this record called “Silence the Violence” that was produced by a record store in Detroit called Shantinique Music at Harper and Gratiot. That record had pretty much all the rappers in Detroit who were on the scene at that time, and me and Proof actually rapped side by side when we recorded it. That was back in ’91,and I consider that to be the first real Promatic track.
AllHipHop.com: So at what point did you and Proof officially form Promatic?
Dogmatic: It was years after that. Everybody went on to do what they were doing. I got signed by Ichiban Records out of Atlanta. I ended up moving to Atlanta for a year to record, and that’s back when MC Breed was really hot. They signed a lot of Michigan artists—him, me, Jack Frost. They put me on tour with Breed to push my album. Breed and I really hit it off, so they said, “He’s gonna be your big brother now. We’ll stick you with him.” So, I was opening for him, and we did a 30-city promotional tour, and we got really cool. So I was busy with Ichiban and me and Proof didn’t hook back up until years later. In the meantime, I did two albums for Ichiban as K-Stone, “6.0.1” and “313”, and then around 1998 Eminem got signed and Proof gave me a call. I was in Atlanta, and he tells me, “Did you hear Marshall got signed?” I was like, “What? The white kid? Dre signed the white kid?”
Then after a few years, Eminem just blew up. Proof was getting ready to go on tour with him, and he called me up and said, “Hey, we’re going on the 'Chronic’ tour.” So I get back to Detroit to record and then the show comes to town and it’s got Ice Cube, Snoop, Dre and Eminem. Proof hooked me up with some passes and I went down to the show and saw my boy onstage and I was just blown away. We hooked up after the show and he told me, “Yo, we need to do a record.”
Proof was adamant about us doing a record, so I said “Let’s do it. “ I had a studio in my house down in the basement and Proof came over, and we did this one record called “Tear This Bitch Up”. This was back in 2000 or 2001, and it was a really good record. Proof said “Wow! We need to do more.” So we did another one, then another one, then another one, and before we knew it, we had a whole album worth of tracks, and they were all dope. So Proof said, “We need to do a group.” We did the name Promatic because by that time, I’d gone from K-Stone to Dogmatic and he had gone from Maximum to Proof. So that’s how Promatic was born.
AllHipHop.com: What was your relationship like with Eminem?
Dogmatic: It was few and far between. I had moved to Atlanta to do the Ichiban thing, so when Eminem and those guys were doing The Hip Hop Shop, I was just coming by to see who was who. I didn’t really know Eminem that well, but obviously I knew Proof and Eminem was his buddy. So, I didn’t really get to know him until after me and Proof did Promatic, and then we started to hang out. We hung out a few times after his fame. I went to a few of Eminem’s birthday parties. I met him a few times before he was signed, but it was just on casual terms. Y’know, like, “Hey Marshall. Hey K-Stone, what’s up?” We were cordial, but never really close.
AllHipHop.com: The Promatic album cover depicts you and Proof standing next to a white rapper with a mushroom on his head. Is that supposed to be Eminem?
Dogmatic: [laughter] You know what? That whole album cover was Proof’s brainchild. I had nothing to do with the album artwork. I was too busy working on the hooks and the beats and the production. Proof was a hell of a marketer, and I’m not exactly sure what he was saying with that. If you open up the album, on the inside there’s a whole comic book inside, which Proof did. We did the Promatic album before he did the D-12 album, and he showed the Promatic album to Eminem first. He said “Check out what me and ‘Matic are doing. What do you think? We might want to run this through Shady (Records).”
Em was filming a music video ,and I was invited to New York to be in it, and we’re all in the hotel, and Proof said, “I’m gonna let Eminem hear the album today.” So I stayed in my room while Proof ran over to Eminem’s room. A while later, Proof comes back and says, “Yo, Em thinks the album is dope, but he’d prefer to just buy some tracks off of us. He doesn’t know about putting out an entire album.” So we said, “Nah, I think we’ll just keep our records,” and we signed with Koch (Records). When we made the cover, I guess Proof could have done that as a joke, maybe to say to Eminem, “Yo, this album is dope. You’re a mushroom-head.” But I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me as well. It’s all from the mind of Proof.
AllHipHop.com: Did Promatic break up?
Dogmatic: Oh, it didn’t. It only ended because he passed away. At the time he died, we were working on our second album and had 40+ songs recorded.
AllHipHop.com: Are you ever going to release those?
Dogmatic: Yeah, but it’s a matter of being in the right place and finding the right label. I was actually hoping Eminem would have a change of heart and maybe release them. Maybe I could one day meet with him and let him hear this stuff, and see if we could do something with it. I need to revamp them and do more production on them, but the voices are there and it’s dope. Proof passed away right when we doing another album for Koch; we owed them another album. But yeah, we did pretty well with the first album. We sold like a quarter-of-a-million records and with an indie label like Koch, that’s pretty good. If Proof hadn’t passed, we would’ve dropped another album. One month before he died, we recorded something like eight new records.
AllHipHop.com: Have you made any headway in getting in contact with Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s manager) to see if a deal can be struck to release the unreleased tracks you did with Proof?
Dogmatic: No, not as of yet. I was approached by D-12’s management last year before they broke up. They were looking for some Proof vocals, and they knew I was probably the only one who would have some. They were trying to do another D-12 album, and I was actually willing to work with them on it, but it didn’t work out because they wanted to take me off all of the records. They wanted at least three or four records, and I asked them to at least leave me on one of them, and they were just adamant about me never appearing on a D-12 album. Their manager Rico told me flat out, “You will never be on a D-12 album.” When I asked why, he just said, “Well, the powers-that-be said that Dogmatic will never be on a D-12 record.” So I said, okay, well, then I’ll just keep my records, thank you. I don’t know who “the powers-that-be” are, but Chuck D always told me to “fight the powers that be.”
But y’know, Paul Rosenberg, he knows me. I mean, I was on tour with Proof on the “Anger Management” tour. I used to open up for the after-parties and stuff, but D-12 didn’t like it at all. I was never invited to any of the other reindeer games. I eventually had to leave the tour. D-12 really didn’t like Proof doing Promatic with me. But me and Paul have talked a few times about things. We kicked it on the set of Obie Trice’s first video. We were all cool. But the members of D-12 just didn’t like that Proof had this project with me. Proof sat me down and said, “Yo, they don’t like it. They’re telling me if I keep going with this, they might not have a spot for me on the next D-12 album.” And that was a 3-4 million selling group, compared to Promatic selling a few hundred thousand copies. Proof told me a lot of things that I’m not going to disclose here, but when Proof died, D-12 had records that only had Proof doing maybe three lines. So that’s why they had to come to me. I think they should have supported [Promatic], and we could have all been down together, but they just didn’t like it.
AllHipHop.com: Why is it that the only rappers to really hit it big in Detroit were White? I mean, Detroit is one of the Blackest cities in America, yet the biggest rappers to come from Detroit were Eminem, Insane Clown Posse, Kid Rock, and Uncle Kracker.
Dogmatic: Well, I don’t want to just point my finger at racism because I think a lot of times it has to do with the diligence and effort of the artist. But me, as an artist who’s very diligent and a hard worker, I see that I don’t get a lot of the same opportunity that those [White] guys got. So, I would have to say it’s part racial, but I think some artists who are Black don’t like having to jump through the hoops we have to jump through in order to get where we need to go.
Take Eminem. He went out to L.A. with Royce Da 5’9, who’s a really good friend of mine. He had the same chance as Eminem had, and he’s just as dope, and Dr. Dre had to make a choice - “Which one can I market better?” From a marketing standpoint, I think White rappers—at least at the time—were just really marketable. There’s a whole lot of Black rappers who can rap really good, but a White rapper who can rap really good, that’s more marketable to the record companies.
AllHipHop.com: How long did you work on “Living Proof?”
Dogmatic: About nine months. A lot of going back and correcting and reworking it. Nine months later, it’s my baby.
AllHipHop.com: One thing that’s interesting about “Living Proof” is how many pop culture references are present. There are all kinds of comic book characters being named dropped—The Human Torch, the Hulk. Are you a comic book fan?
Dogmatic: [laughter] Oh yeah. A lot. I’m a buff. I like Marvel more than DC. I like some of the other stuff, the independent publishers who make Spawn and stuff like that. I loved the ‘80s “Incredible Hulk” TV series. Love all that sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: Are you planning on touring in support of this album?
Dogmatic: Yeah, we’re planning on doing a small college tour. We’re gonna hit the colleges, and I’m putting together a strategic plan to see which are the best colleges to hit. Plus, I’m planning on going overseas. I have a lot of fans over in Amsterdam and Australia. We’ve been offered to go before, but I haven’t been able to go for some reason or another.
AllHipHop.com: I understand you were interviewed by Champtown for the documentary he’s working on - The Untold Story of Detroit Hip Hop.
Dogmatic: Yeah, that film is gonna be dope. I think it’s an untapped source of information, even for Detroit. The story of the underground artists from Detroit has never been told and it needs to be. There is so much that people don’t know about Detroit Hip-Hop. They don’t know that I was on the Anger Management tour; they don’t know that I was one of the first artists who was on DJ Green Lantern’s mixtape. They don’t know that Proof nicknamed Green Lantern “the evil genius;" they don’t know that I started “313” when I came out with that album in 1994. That was the first time you ever heard anyone represent Detroit with the area code.
When they made the 8 Mile movie with Eminem, before they started it, they tried to figure out who started the 313-chant, but y’know, I have no patent on that. Those kinds of stories have never been told, and Champtown has really tapped into something with this project. I can’t wait to see it.
AllHipHop.com: In closing, is there anything else you’d like to say about Living Proof?
Dogmatic: I think everybody should get a copy of this album because, along with the great music, you’ll be getting some true Hip-Hop stories, stuff that people don’t know that they need to know. It’s a great album that keeps it completely real.
Dogmatic’s new album, Living Proof, comes out today (October 2) on Canorous Records/Universal Music Group and is available at all major digital music retailers.