D12 member Proof is gearing up for the Aug. 9 release of his first solo album, "Searching for Jerry Garcia."

D12 member Proof is gearing up for the Aug. 9 release of his first solo album, "Searching for Jerry Garcia." The set will be issued via the artist's own Iron Fist label and features such guests as longtime collaborator Eminem, 50 Cent, Method Man, Nate Dogg, Obie Trice and his D12 cohorts.

Speaking to Billboard.com from Phoenix, Proof describes his new album as "A methadone clinic," elaborating that by surrounding himself with new talent, he could wean audiences from his D12 image. "And everybody's still on dope," he adds with a laugh.

The album blends live instruments with sampled production, with theatrical tracks touching on stalwart rap subject matter like pimping and life on the streets. "Garcia" dips into more confessional territory on songs like "Forgive, Me," where 50 Cent sings the refrain: "God forgive me, for I've sinned / Over and aver again, just to stay on top / I recall memories filled with sin, over and over again."

"I went back to the original flavor of hip hop that I remember, that I love," says Proof. "[Where] people used samples, that kind of feel. Everything on there isn't a sample, but just the rawness I remember from '94, '95."

In reference to the title, Proof says he's become a huge fan of late Grateful Dead member Garcia, not only as an artist but as a "genius" who suffered and died from character flaws common to all people.

"He played every kind of music -- he had jazz albums, classical albums, he went against the grain," Proof said. "He didn't care about the record sales ... I mean, his shows outsold his record sales. That almost don't make sense to me."

As for future plans with Iron Fist, Proof says he plans to release a second rap album through the label before searching for new talent in different genres, possibly a rock band. "I'm not going to come right back with rap," he says. "I'm thinking about a band, because that's how rap labels get. They'll keep on putting out hip-hop until we die out, instead of being a 'label.'"

Proof casts doubt on recent reports that Eminem was planning to retire from making solo albums and touring. "I keep on telling people, Em will be 50 or 60 years old, and will be about to be an old man still playing with MCs," he says. "I don't think he'll ever quit. He might even drop another solo album. I can't see him not rapping -- he's too crazy."

Here is the track list for "Searching for Jerry Garcia":

"Knice"
"Clap Wit Me"
"Biboa's Theme"
"When God Calls"
"Forgive Me" featuring 50 Cent
"Purple Gang"
"Nat Morris"
"Gurls Wit Da Boom"
"High Rollers" featuring B-Real and Method Man
"Rondell Beene"
"Pimplikeness" featuring D12
"Ali" featuring MC Breed
"No T. Lose" featuring King Gordy
"Jump Biatch"
"Mom and Dad" featuring Rude Jude
"72nd and Central" featuring Obie Trice and J Hill
"Sammy Da Bull” featuring Nate Dogg and Swifty McVay
"Black Wrist Bro's" featuring 1st Born
"Slum Elements" featuring T-3 of Slum and Mudo of 5ela
"Kurt Cobain"

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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