His D12 brother Bizarre may be just crazy, but Proof is crazy like a fox. Many of the tracks on his proper debut offer vivid descriptions of inner-turmoil that would make any backpacker happy, but there's often a grotesque sting of the tail slipped in somewhere that's one part humorous, one part creepy. Mixtape mavens that seek out everything Eminem or Detroit could have told you this, but on D12 albums and his work with Slim Shady, Proof goes for the knockout punch and doesn't flesh out his character enough to consider him a true player. The oddly titled Searching for Jerry Garcia proves he's a lot more versatile than expected. Running over an hour, the album never bores or tries the patience. Skits and interludes are purposeful and join together a varied set of numbers that lesser efforts would tangle. There are club tracks, thug tracks, and a guest list that goes from MC Breed to 50 Cent, but the lyrically gifted Proof is always at the center, always the heart. The infectious thumper "Gurls Wit da Boom," the horn-filled, Kanye-influenced "Clap Wit Me," and the G-Unit-flavored "Forgive Me" are obvious standouts, but SFJG goes that extra mile and adds some challenging, introspective numbers that grow with each listen. "No. T. Lose" with Detroit legend King Gordy balances on its rickety beat but never falls off while the closing, word-filled monologue "Kurt Kobain" finally ties the music to the album's title and artwork. The CD's booklet is obsessed with dead rock stars and shows Proof burning down Detroit's holiest of music landmarks -- Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. building -- while waxing poetic about the city's lesser-known landmark, the Hip-Hop Shop. Who knows what they were getting at, but even on an album that features a D12 track (and a track with Purple Gang, who are D12 in training), it's the most D12 moment on this entirely Proof-centric album. He could've played it safe and used his superstar pedigree as a crutch. Instead, Searching for Jerry Garcia cracks the rapper's head wide open, lets everyone peek inside, and takes a wrecking ball to the idea he's just another member of Eminem's extended posse.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1