Bizarre: Stranger Than Fiction

Bizarre of D12 infamy lives in The “A” but his heart forever bleeds Motown.The Museum of Contemporary Art-Detroit (MOCAD) is a formerly non-descript building that has been spray-painted and transformed into a showplace for modern art. On the side of the museum facing Detroit’s main thoroughfare, Woodward Ave., is a neon glimmer of optimism, “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT”. The declaration shines into the night like hope in a city that is full of churches and liquor stores; places where its residents go to find hope and when all hope is lost. Detroit is a city that needs some hope, like the words maybe, if, or probably, to quote Andre 3000. In a state where the unemployment rate increases every month, nearing 8% and that is just of residents who are actually counted by Federal unemployment guidelines, the figure doesn’t include the chronically unemployed, of which there are plenty. This is a city that wonders if it’s Golden Age has come and gone, however, it still clings to the tenets of its city motto: We hope for better days; it shall arise from its ashes. Bizarre is a rapper who has known love and loss. A Detroit native from the city’s Westside, the rotund rapper hails from 7 Mile and never appeared in the film named after a street one mile north, although characters based on his group were featured in Eminem’s biopic, 8 Mile. In the film, Em’s character, Jimmy Rabbit, tells Bizarre’s character, Sol, “If something is going to happen, it needs to happen now.” While the film was a glimpse of their past, however, that line is prescient of their future. Speaking of Future, Mekhi Phifer’s character’s inspiration is no longer a part of Detroit’s present and nothing has been the same. “Proof, man, he was just, he was a leader, he was the leader of D12, it was his group; a lot of people don’t know that,” Bizarre affirms. “He put it together, he chose the members.” The future of Eminem’s band that wasn’t a band is up in the air now. Rumors swirl around them like smoke after the murder of their founding member and leader, DeShaun “Proof” Holton in the early morning hours of April 11, 2006 at CCC Nightclub. One of the rumors is that the group is unhappy with its current recording contract with Shady Records. However, Bizarre states that a D12 album is “in the works.” Shady Records has undergone a lot of changes since its founding in 2001, when D12 was the only artist on the roster to be joined by Obie Trice; then overshadowed by 50 Cent. “Marshall has a lot more artists and a lot more responsibilities,” says Bizarre. “He is recording his album, it’s going to come out first and then we are going to come out,” he continues, adding D12 has already recorded almost 40 songs. There are also plans to use some of Proof’s previously recorded material to fill his noticeable absence on the project.D12 is a multi-platinum selling rap group. They are also leaders of the Detroit Hip-Hop Community which includes standouts like Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Marvwon, as well as newcomers, Tone-Tone and Stretch Money, who has an appearance on Biz’s solo effort, Blue Cheese and Coney Island. The Detroit Hip-Hop scene also boasts former D12 friend turned foe turned friend, again, Royce Da 5’9”, as well as some of the industry’s most promising producers, like Nick Speed and Silent Riot. The city is also the hometown of Slum Village and J Dilla whose music deeply influenced Hip-Hop. “If I had one wish (for Detroit) what would I wish for? More unity. More radio support. And more respect for artists who paved the way, and made it possible for all of us to do this.”When asked if there is a “Detroit Sound”, Bizarre replies, “Kinda. We are in the Midwest, so there is a little bit of everything. We are influenced by the world. But we have our own style, swag, and lingo.” Bizarre currently lives in Atlanta and returns to his hometown every other week, by his own admission. He relocated south after moving there with his former wife, Deanna. His album title, Blue Cheese and Coney Island is a tribute to his two places of residence. Blue Cheese is a favorite topping on Hotlanta’s Hot Wings, and Coney Island is a popular type of diner in Detroit. Bizarre was a regular at Detroit’s now legendary, Hip Hop Shop, where he met Eminem and not long afterward he released his first album, Attack of the Weirdos EP in 1998. It would be seven calendar years, millions of dollars, and even more millions of fans later, when he would release another solo project, Hannicap Circus in 2005. The album was not a great hit; released on Matthew Knowles’ Sanctuary Records, however, it allowed his fans to get a dose of his hilarity. On this new album, Bizarre takes a more serious stance. “This album has a bunch of serious songs. People know me as always being silly. You can’t be silly all the time. This album has a really different flavor.” After losing 21 pounds on Celebrity Fit Club and shedding a tear on Punk’d, Bizarre has been one of D12’s more visible members. Currently a judge on Celebrity Rap Superstar, he hopes to shed his image of just a character in a shower cap, “A misconception about me? People think I’m crazy. That I’m just a crazy guy who runs around in a shower cap 24 hours a day. I’m just a cool guy.”Biz is the first member of D12 to release an album since the death of the groups founding member. On “So Hard (Letter to Proof)”, he speaks on life, love and loss. “It kinda just explains the struggles of life. Losing Proof, and how much it meant to us as a group and to everybody in general.” The song features Monica Blaire and her rich soulful voice adds to the power of the opus. On Blue Cheese and Coney Island, Bizarre utilizes a lot of Detroit artists and Detroit producers. The album also has appearances by Stretch Money, D12, and Tech N9ne. Bizarre has chosen a path that many artists are blazing, mid-level independent record labels to distribute their projects. His new solo album is being released on Koch Records, a label that 50 Cent referred to as a “graveyard”, however, Bizarre recommends independence. “I’m very comfortable.” Bizarre says of his label situation, “I’m in control. I record in my own studio. No A&R’s telling me what to record. I make the album and I turn it in, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”