Despite the group’s aggressive veneer, Paul Fennessy finds D12’s Bizarre to be a soft-spoken, shy individual.
AS FAR AS interviews go, this one did not get off to the best of starts. Having been told Otwo will be speaking to D12’s Swift beforehand, it is announced seconds before the interview that we will in fact be talking with Bizarre – so much for half the questions. Oh well!
However, this switch is not a disappointment, as Bizarre (real name: Rufus Johnson) is arguably the most renowned member of the group, apart from Eminem, due in part to his distinctive, portly appearance.
Moreover, his lyrics are compellingly odd and grotesque. On what Bizarre describes as his ‘favourite’ D12 song, ‘American Psycho’, he raps: “My dick is burnin, it ain’t cos of disease / Because I’m jackin off with gasoline mixed with antifreeze (AHH!).” Charming!
Hence, it is somewhat surprising to discover that Bizarre seems relatively normal and relaxed in person. He promotes the as-yet-untitled new D12 album like any other band might. “It’s going cool. We’re still in the studio grinding it out, but we’re just about done. It should be coming to y’all soon.”
“We definitely have some classic joints on the new album,” he continues. “You guys gotta stay tuned to it. We gotta (standout) song called ‘Fuck You’ coming out.”
After every query, Bizarre pauses and takes a deep breath, before answering in a slow, excessively laid-back drawl. This may be because he is not entirely enamoured with the questions, but it is more likely because he suffers from a speech impediment.
Bizarre’s verbal disability was once harshly ridiculed by rival rapper Royce da 5’9 who had a long-standing war of words with D12. Nonetheless, having already witnessed the perils of violence firsthand, with one of their members (Bugz) killed by gunfire, the group eventually elected to end this feud.
“Time went on and we got older,” he explains. “The whole beef was kind of ‘he says, she says’ stuff, so we got a little bit wiser. It was him and Proof that squashed it first and everyone else then decided to squash the whole thing.” Curiously, Royce is now supporting the band on their tour.
Still, Bizarre is keen to dismiss the group’s violent image, insisting that they rarely argue with one another. “We don’t have problems because we just go into the studio and do it. And whoever is not really feeling a song, they don’t mind.”
Nevertheless, in spite of his seemingly easy-going nature, Otwo has been worrying about asking the dreaded Eminem question throughout the interview. This fear is mainly inspired by Bizarre’s words in the hit song, ‘My Band’: “Fuck the media, I got some questions / Fuck Marshall, ask us the questions / Like who’s D12, how we got started.”
Yet curiosity prevails and Bizarre is finally asked, in the most diplomatic manner possible, how hard it has been to overcome being regarded simply as ‘Eminem’s band’.
“Anytime you’re in the shadow of one of the most famous rappers in the world and on his label, it’s gonna be kind of hard. But you just gotta be really happy that you got a deal with somebody period.” Phew!
D12 play Tripod on Thursday, 2nd April.