10 Questions for Bizarre

When thinking of tattooed stomachs in hip-hop, Tupac’s “Thug Life” immediately comes to mind. But there’s another rapper whose inked, rotund belly—a clown seemingly rips through his skin, brandishing a pistol under the words “Motor City”—showcases he’s both a jester and a deviant.

Bizarre, the comical rhymer of D12 fame known to walk around shirtless, tends to keeps his tatted middle section under wraps these days. During the release party of his third studio album, Friday Night at St. Andrews, it was hidden under a large Dickies button-down shirt as he performed a sampling of his 19-track disc inside Detroit’s renowned venue, St. Andrews. Patrons didn’t get a glimpse of Bizarre’s skin art, but they did bear witness to the sounds of his collaborations with the likes of burgeoning artists Yelawolf, Monica Blair, and Nate Walka, all of whom were in attendance.

As he commanded the stage, his signature shower cap resting atop his red-tinted faux-hawk, the Atlanta resident (yes, he moved from his beloved Motor City seven years ago) looked right at home with an entourage behind him, some of which included two hype men and fellow D12 member Swift. Before Bizarre tore through a catalogue of past gems such as “Purple Pills,” he offered some fodder for inquiring minds. From Eminem’s advice and freestyling with The Fugees to the tragic death of Aiyana Jones, here’s what the hater of all things turkey bacon has to divulge.

1. You chose to bring newcomer Yelawolf onto your album. How did that collaboration come about?

He chose me actually. He just came to the studio with this producer who was trying to submit some tracks to me. This is in Atlanta. He had like a six-pack of beer. His producer, Will Power, was playing some beats for me, then [Yelawolf] was like, “Listen to this hook I came up with.” He said the hook for me and I was like, “That shit’s tight.” I told him to go lay it down. That was about four months ago. He’s dope. I don’t think he sounds like Eminem at all. People tend to want to compare them. He represents Alabama to the fullest.

2. Did Eminem have any input at all on this album?

Nah, this was all strictly Bizarre. I just wanted to do this on my own. I know he’s doing his own thing. It’s showing maturity. I wanted to come with a finished project and give it to him, like, “Yo, check this out,” instead of asking for help. He had a couple suggestions for a couple of the songs that I took heed to. I went over there gradually as I did songs and played songs for him.

3. What advice has Eminem shared that has always stuck with you?

Don’t settle for something. If something is bugging you, just kinda say something about it. Some rappers just let it slide. That’s one thing I learned from Marshall, I can’t let something slide. If I don’t hear something right or I know that something else needs to be done, I need to say something. I’m talking about music-wise, as far as the studio. If I know it needs to be done over or it doesn’t sound right, I have to keep doing it until I get it right.

4. I read that you dislike being compared to “Weird Al” Yankovich. Why is that?

I’m a funny guy and some of my raps are silly, but “Weird Al” Yankovich never made a real song. He always covered somebody else’s songs; he’s something to laugh at. He’s happy being that. I’m not trying to say I’m the greatest lyricist ever, but I definitely have something to offer besides something that’s silly.

5. You chose a rather serious song, “Believer,” as your first single. What prompted your decision to go that route?

We had a lot of pressure on us to choose what the single was going to be. I just kinda told everybody, “Let’s do music and just make the hottest shit that we can make and see what we can come up with.” “Believer” was just that song that was right. It was serious, emotional, and definitely something different that people would not expect to hear from Bizarre. It’s definitely dealing with a lot of issues that’s going on today. C.N.O.T.E., out of Benton Harbor, Michigan, produced that.

6. Everyone knows D12 for being rooted in Detroit, but you actually chose to move to Atlanta. Why did you leave?

I just like the weather down there. It’s better. I can drive around in my black drop-top Mustang. It’s just a cool environment down there. I’m a big fisherman.

7. For those that don’t know the story, how did the shower cap come into existence?

The shower cap came about during our first show. Right before we were about to go onstage, I put it on as a joke so everybody could laugh. I got it from the hotel; we were in Milwaukee. It was those cheap, plastic ones. Marc Labelle, Eminem’s road manager, he was like, “Oh, shit! That’s hot.” The next show we did, he had like 100 shower caps there to choose from.

8. Unfortunately, Detroit is known for its violence. What are your thoughts about the tragic death of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones?

I thought it was a sad situation. It’s even sadder that they had the show, “The First 48,” videotaping at that time. I hope [the family] gets justice. I think the police had some wrongdoing in this, and it’s gonna be revealed. Geoffrey Fieger’s on the case. He’s an animal when it comes to representing people. He’s the most popular attorney in Michigan. He was Dr. Kevorkian’s lawyer.

9. Let’s go back to the time when you frequented St. Andrews to watch shows. Describe an artist whose performance impacted you.

Some of the people that intrigued me the most were The Roots and The Fugees concert. It was a dope concert, they had a live band. This is like 10, 12 years ago. I got to take a picture with Lauryn Hill for $30. They let us freestyle with them afterwards. I had to pay to get into the venue, but it was worth it to freestyle with The Fugees.

10. Since you know all the hot spots in Detroit, what’s one of the places you always find yourself going to?

There’s this placed called Coney Island out here. It’s a restaurant that’s always open, 24/7. They sell things like chili hot dogs and chili cheese fries—all the unhealthy stuff. After “Celebrity Fit Club,” that’s the kind of place you’re not really supposed to hit up.

–Georgette Cline