By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Attack of the Weirdos: The EP
Damned if the Midwest isn't the most jinxed hip-hop region in the country. While the New York/Los Angeles stranglehold on the rap game seems a distant memory, thanks to the rise of powerful scenes in New Orleans, Richmond, San Francisco, and Atlanta, most Midwestern cities (Chicago being a possible exception) can't seem to get over an inability to send upstart artists to hip hop's big leagues. That trend may end, however, with the emergence of a diverse Detroit scene that includes Native Tongues-styled Slum Village and a contingent of pseudo-comical "horror rappers" led by Eminem and Bizarre.
Eminem has already become a star with underground heads and the white hip-hop kids increasingly known as "backpackers"; his cameos on Dr. Dre's upcoming Chronic 2000 album attests to that. Yet buddy Bizarre has yet to land a record deal; hence this excellent, independent seven-song EP. Anyone familiar with Eminem's absurdly violent story-raps knows exactly what to expect from Bizarre.
The heavyset MC's bass-filled voice is uniquely tinged with a slight lisp--sort of a cross between Eric Sermon in delivery and Scarface in style. And, true to the horror-rap m.o., there's plenty of grim humor thrown into each of his rhymes. The EP's master opus, "Trife Thieves" (a posse cut featuring Bizarre, Eminem, and Fuzz), makes the tape a worthwhile pursuit. Bizarre's slower, heavy tones serve as the yin to Eminem's high-pitched, up-tempo yang. All three lyricists play well off of one another, each working to outbrag and out-tough the next.
Bizarre begins the rant: "If I don't get all my fuckin' dough/Y'all gonna see more fights than in the Jerry Springer show...I'm the illest rapper to come out thus far/I'll shoot anybody, even the bitch that gave me CPR." He's quickly followed by Eminem, who raps, "You hate on us/And we'll be waitin' on eight corners/Swarming your hood with a thousand angry skateboarders/This place is my house/I might as well erase my face with Wite-Out/Cause y'all can't see me, like Mase's eyebrows."
The crew goes on to fire venom-tinged barbs at everyone from Canibus to the Oklahoma City bombing victims. Throughout, they display the sharp lyrics and tight delivery that is sure to make the Motor City the capital of the "dirtier Midwest." And even if Bizarre rarely mentions his hometown by name, the spare production--mainly simple basslines and piano chords--distinguishes it from the funk-laden descendants of West Coast gangstas that this new school is likely to be compared to. Unlike the Detroit area's famously inept Insane Clown Posse, Bizarre and his crew display true talent as MCs, and, more often than not, their lyrics seem more geared toward creating knee-slapping laughter than inspiring fear.