Far from being just the big guy in a shower hat behind Eminem, Detroit rapper Bizarre boats a musical legacy to rival even some of today’s more high profile rappers. Ahead of the launch of his solo album, “Friday Night at St Andrews” Bizarre took the time to speak to Bonafide about the hip-hop legacy of his home city, MC Battles and oh yes, the shower hat.
So to kick off, where is St Andrews and what’s so special about Friday Night there? “The name St Andrews refers to a club in downtown Detroit where we all started out. Fridays nights was the dope night, the night where we would all get up and spit our stuff. I started there, D12 started there, Marshall (Eminem) started there.” Is this the club featured in Eight Mile? “Yes the very same, but you know it was a lot madder than that- this place was pretty freaky you know. The people who went there used to look so different. People used to laugh at you for going there.“ So are you trying to catch that vibe on the record? “ Yeah you got it. Hip hop today’s kind of funny you know, people are doing that euro discos stuff and auto tuning all over the place? I think I need to, I got to, bring some of that rawness back, we come from the street and that what we be representing”
For all its post industrial gloom Detroit has consistently produced world beating musical acts across all genres, any reason for this? “Yeah you right, Berry (Gordy) put this place on the map, and then us and also not forgetting my brother Jay Dilla. We stuck in the middle you know? Between New York and the West Coast, you might say that we got the best of both worlds.” Tell me about Jay Dilla, you were working with him when he was relatively unknown? “Yeah, he was a genius flat-out. I love that boy, and I miss him so much, the things he was doing were unbelievable. I know he gets props but he deserved more you know? I think he could have gone on to rule the music world, not just hip hop but every kind of music. I got a loads of is stuff that aint never going to come out, and its raw man you just wouldn’t believe the styles he was capable of.”
So who’s making the music now that Dilla is unfortunately no longer with us? “This record has been produced by local producers, the new kids and the up and coming. I think if we are keeping it street then it’s the kids who are going to make it happen. I have sat around waiting for the phone to call I wanted to offer that same opportunity that I got out a bit further.” No turning to Dre or any of the big boys to get a sure-fire hit then? “If it’s about St. Andrews, it needs to sound raw and it needs to sound live. Every song on this album, I can hit it live, it’s something I can see myself performing.”
And it’s that ability to pick up a mike and genuinely rock the house that seems to lead to where Bizarre is at the moment. “It’s the battles man, the battles are where I’m from and that’s what hip hop means to me personally. I can step up to anybody, and Im pretty sure that I can take them, that’s what this record is about. If you want pop then that’s fine, if you want the real thing then St Andrews is where it’s at.”
It’s refreshing to speak to somebody who has had such a close brush with superstardom and not only lived to tell the tale, but still shows such genuine respect for his roots. Bling culture generally means a rejection of where you are coming from in favour of where you are at, but Bizarre doesn’t feel that way at all. “No man, for me it’s the street and it will always be the street and that just me.” No Hollywood career of perfume range then? “Fuck no; I love the beats too much.” He laughs every so slightly sinisterly down the phone.
As Bizarre’s PR breaks the conversation up to signal another interview, I manage to ask the one question that I have been dying to pose all night. So what’s with the shower hat? “Why not.” he laughs, “I was goofing about in the hotel and it just kind of came to me. I wanna be a bit different you know? Not like all them other rappers. Hell who doesn’t? “