Friday, April 6, 2012
Though Detroit is synonymous with automobiles, music is actually the city’s greatest export. Motown to Madonna, Aretha to Eminem, the Motor City has cranked out just as many musicians as it has muscle cars. For Hip Hop, St. Andrews Music Hall has served as an assembly line for the city, rolling through a long list if of acts ranging from Lauryn Hill to The Roots.
"St. Andrews is the venue all the Hip Hop heads went to on Fridays for music," says Bizarre. "There were other clubs around it, but it stood out like a sore thumb. The people who went there used to look so different. People used to laugh at you for going there."
But now, St. Andrews has a reputation as one of Detroit’s mainstays for live music in general. BIzarre is on a mission to undergo a similar transformation, making the title of his third solo album Friday Night At St. Andrews, that more meaningful.
Since his introduction to the mainstream national audience as a member of D-12, BIzarre’s shirtless, shower cap performances and psychotically humorous rhymes certainly made him standout in a six man rap group. But at the same time, his antics began to typecast him.
"I want people to start viewing me in a different way," says Bizarre, who drives the point home on the lead single "Believer," a track about his former label home pushing him and D-12 to continue making comical music, even after the death of founding member Proof. "At this point in my career I’m sick of the silly stuff. I don’t want to be looked at as a Weird Al Yankovich." Groomed in Detroit’s underground rap scene before achieving world wide success and platinum album sales, Bizarre introduced himself to the world with his 1998 independent effort Attack of the Weirdos. The album was one of the earlier Detroit Hip Hop albums showcasing the city’s diverse talent, featuring production for then unknown beatsmiths Mr. Porter and Jay Dee (J Dilla). On Friday Night At St. Andrews, Bizzare is recreating the spirit of that album with the focus of a veteran artist who has traveled the world and learned the industry.
"I’m bringing it back to the raw Hip Hop with this album," says Bizarre. "I came up from battling, but people got me misconstrued because of some of my lyrics and didn’t consider me a dope MC. I wouldn’t say that I’m toning my music down, but I’m definitely being more lyrical this time around." Prime examples are tracks like "Rap’s Finest" featuring fellow Rock City MC’s feat Kuniva, Royce the 5’9 and Seven the General where Bizarre goes toe for toe with three of the city’s most respected lyricists. Bizarre also put his narrative skills to the test with songs like "School Teacher," an off-kilter story about a 5th grader having the hots for his instructor, and "Some Days I’m High," a hazy account of his ascention being from a worker to being a boss. Able to call his own shots now, Bizarre strayed away from using his high-profile resources, and instead opted to recruit hungry, up and coming producers to craft the sound for his album. The result is a well-balanced offering allowing him to not only rap about the extreme themes he’s known for ("Feeling Myself" and "April May June July" chronicle recreational drug use) but everyday man tales ("Just Can’t Get Enough" is about volatile on-and-off relationships) as well.
High-energy tracks like "Down This Road" featuring Yelawolf and "Jump" featuring Bonecrusher and Anamul House are guaranteed to produce electric performances while laid back efforts like "What You Smoking On" will provide an equally euphoric experience, even if it’s a slower pace.
"The majority of this album is done by Detroit producers," he reveals. "I know what it feels like to be the guy at home without much going on and get inspired by a call from a major artist wanting to work with you. I wanted to give guys an opportunity. Plus, I specifically wanted to stick with the theme of St. Andrews and made sure the beats sounded live. Every song on this album, I can picture performing."
Once known for being a place for weirdos, and then later a venue for Hip Hop’s elite, St. Andrews is now music landmark in Detroit. After being looked as a weirdo himself and working with rap music’s elite, Bizarre’s Friday Night At St. Andrews will surely cement him as one of the most respectable music figures to hail from "The D".
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