When you’re the most recognizable member of a group other than Eminem, it’s either a good thing or a bad thing. There’s no denying that the aptly named rapper Bizarre has a presence though, whether with his thick tongued violent and sadomasochistic lyrics, or the use of his commanding stature in the D12 family’s music videos. In either case the intent seems to be the same – Bizarre is the guy who provides comic relief. The lyrical misogyny he spits offends the unobservant and cracks up those who realize how over the top it is. “Shut your mouth you dirty slut, you know you want it in your butt” is certainly NOT a serious come on. Bizarre enjoys blurring the line between reality and fiction though to the point you start to wonder if he really IS that high and crazy, like on his scene stealing verse from “My Band”:

“God damn it, I’m sick of this group
Time for me to go solo and make some loot
I told you I made the beats and wrote all the raps
Till Kon Artis – slipped me some crack
‘Lose Yourself’ video I was in the back
‘Superman’ video I was in the back
For the media, I got some suggestions
Fuck Marshall! Ask us the questions
Like who’s D12? How we get started?
(What about Eminem?) Bitch are you retarded?!”

The little known secret about Rufus Johnson b/k/a Bizarre is that he’s been on wax almost as long as Eminem. Even though Marshall Mathers technically wins the war with 1995’s obscure “Infinite” album, Bizarre dropped his “Attack of the Weirdos EP” the same year Slim Shady dropped HIS self-titled EP, both coming before Eminem met Dr. Dre and landed the deal that put him on the map nationally. Owing to their common Detroit background it’s no surprise that Eminem was a guest on Bizarre’s EP, or that Bizarre’s local notoriety made him a perfect choice to be part of the D12 supergroup which first surfaced on “Proof to release a solo album since they went national. While Proof’s work has been a little on the obscure side, Bizarre is getting a full-fledged push from Sanctuary Urban in the form of national distribution of his CD and a mobile phone memory card. Rap albums have been released digitally before but that’s a new one on me – if it’s been done before I’ve never heard of it.

With so much confidence from his new label on the release of “Hannicap Circus” it only remains to be seen if the album itself delivers the goods. The album starts appropriately enough with another “Public Service Announcement” skit, on which the announcer warns us that “The lyrics you’re about to hear are totally fucked; they’re geared towards the future lives of gay and lesbians of the world. So that being said, grab a blunt, take a big hit, sit back and enjoy the ride.” GLAAD will probably be offended again, but only because they take this irreverant and non-sensical introduction too seriously. This is followed by the heavy beats of the PMG produced “Intro,” where Bizarre explains his concept for the “Hannicap Circus” album:

“Heyyy bitch! It’s your nigga with the shower cap
Kickin a nasty, dirty filthy rap
DETROIT’S ON THE MAP – and D12’s back
Any nigga pop shit, get his ass smacked (what?)
I got two lesbians, full-blown AIDS (eww)
Twenty bucks, you can get yo’ ass laid
Welcome to Detroit, where the city is cold
Where niggaz ride on potholes and fuck up the 24’s”

Crass, insensitive, foul-mouthed and politically incorrect – that’s Bizarre in a nutshell. In case some of you are tempted to tell him he needs Jesus in his life or that he should find religion, just check out the chorus he sings on the “Gospel Weed Song”:

“I wake up praisin, God every day
I wanna, smoke some weed and, roll me a J
Thank you Jesus (thank you Jesus) thank you Lord (thank you Lord)
For lettin me, live another day, hey hey”

Bizarre is an equal opportunity offended, although the sad part is that the same people who take the Old Testament literally ought to have no problem with Mr. Johnson’s version of worship. Genesis 1:29 – “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.'” Even if you read that as meaning for food, there’s no reason you can’t bake marijuana brownies, and there’s certainly no prohbition on chewing on or smoking tobacco – and both have a direct effect on the brain’s chemistry (though tobacco has been proven to be both more harmful and more addictive). Getting back to the point though, Bizarre proves he’s just as willing to use artificially man-made medicines on “Fuck Your Life”:

“Man I popped so many pills it’s startin to get scary
(Bizarre I’m your wife) BITCH I ain’t married
And I don’t give a fuck about pullin out my dick
… look at the name of my clique
It’s D-12 ho (yeahhh baby) it’s D-12 ho (yeahhh baby)
Yeah yeah, Bizarre smoke ganja, and got no problems
For ten hot dollars I’ll fuck your bitch at the cabana
VD, AIDS, that’s what Bizarre got
For ten thousand, Magic Johnson’ll give me a shot
I sniff blow, high off a brick
Crash into a ditch, on 696”

Perhaps the public service announcment should have included the statement “don’t imitate any of Bizarre’s behavior at any time,” but the fact that he clearly goes out of his way to describe negative consequences of his psychotic behavior proves he’s not so crazy after all. If you’re hip to the joke, you know that Bizarre would already be dead if he did all the things he said, and the harder he tries to convince us that he really does them the funnier it gets. Bizarre is ably supported on his comic misadventures with superb beats: PMG laces the super-funkdafied “Let the Record Skip,” Hi-Tek does the smooth flowing but brutally sadistic “I’m in Luv Witchu” as well as Bizarre’s duets “Hip Hop” with Eminem and “Doctor Doctor” with Obie Trice. Speaking of guest appearances, Raphael Saadiq sings on the R&B style track he laced for “Coming Home,” while the D12 family can be found on the Mr. Porter produced “Nuthin’ at All.” Denaun also laced the track “Porno Bitches,” but that one features Big Boi and Devin the Dude:

Devin: “When I was young I was sprung off the way women used their tongue
I couldn’t nut yet, but fuck that, it was still fun
to look… I took… vaseline
Even though it was thick and rubbed it on my dick
Now I’m grown…
… and my bone is so well-known girls wanna get it cloned”

Bizarre plays second fiddle to nobody on “Hannicap Circus” though, not even Eminem. In fact the Eminem produced “Rock Star” sounds like the perfect sequel to “My Band,” moving him from backup singer to a demented and demanding Ozzy Osbourne style front man:

“I’m on TRL, with David Chappelle
Talking about the little two days I did in jail
Stop – gimme a sandwich, feed me lunch
(Want some water?) Girl where’s my punch?
If I don’t get punch, you gon’ get punched *bam*
(Oh shit!) Matter of fact, forget lunch!”

“Hannicap Circus” may not be an album for those weak of heart or stomach, because for the sake of comedy Bizarre has always been willing to say (and possible do) anything, no matter how much it offends. Taken out of musical context and read Charlton Heston style, Rufus Johnson’s lyrics would probably sound like every parent’s worst nightmare. In the context of the album though they are just like the rapper himself – bizarre. While the verbals aren’t meant to be taken that seriously, the level of deprivation Bizarre is willing to rap shows a serious albiet twisted sense of pride in his craft, and for a heavyset MC his breath control and diction remain suprisingly and consistantly clear. It’s not your mother’s, father’s, sister’s or brother’s cup of tea, but for fans of D12 and/or Hunter S. Thompson, “Hannicap Circus” is one crazy trip through the mind of a lunatic.

Bizarre :: Hannicap Circus
8Overall Score