Sunday, December 17, 2006

D12's Bizarre Slowly Moving Towards Acting

In the mainstream world of rap, where chiseled artists like 50 Cent often go shirtless on their CD covers, it's fair to say persona, to an extent, is shaped by physique.

For Bizarre, the most rotund member of the popular Detroit rap group D12, his shape is his image. In some D12 videos, Bizarre, like his thinner musical counterparts, has no need for T-shirts. He wears his trademark shower cap and raps about all things absurd and obscene. He is the lighter side of rap -- pun very much intended.

``I've always been a class clown, a funny guy,'' Bizarre said during a phone interview last week from his home in Atlanta. ``I'm just being me in the rap form.''
Bizarre's form, in all its tattooed splendor, will be on display at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ground Sphere Rhythm Cafe, in Allegan.

Bizarre, 33, whose real name is Rufus Johnson, is putting the finishing touches on a new D12 album, which he said should be released sometime between March and May. And he runs his own label, Red House Records.

But Bizarre is expanding his career options to reach beyond rap.

He appeared as the ``basketball convict'' in the 2005 comedy ``The Longest Yard,'' starring comedians Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He also was a contestant on the third season of VH1's reality show ``Celebrity Fit Club.'' The series invites overweight celebrities to shed pounds with help from health professionals like former Marine and personal trainer Harvey Walden.

``It was cool. Harvey's a cool guy,'' Bizarre said of the experience.
Since ``The Longest Yard'' and ``Celebrity Fit Club,'' Bizarre said, he has started taking acting lessons and trying to secure roles in comedy movies. He recently read for a part in ``Boulevard,'' am upcoming comedy to be directed by Robert Farquhar that follows a night in the life of Los Angeles teens cruising Crenshaw Boulevard. It is tentatively scheduled for release in 2008.

Bizarre said he's approaching the new career track ``slowly but surely.'' So far, memorizing several pages of dialogue has proved to be a bit more difficult than he realized.

``H--- yeah. It's way tougher. I have a lot of respect for actors,'' he said.
But Bizarre is not giving up rap. Since Eminem burst onto the pop charts in 1999 with his irreverent style, D12 has been able to benefit from his success. Originally formed in 1990, D12 picked up some mainstream success behind 2001's ``Devil's Night'' and 2004's ``D12 World.'' On June 28, 2005, Bizarre dropped his solo debut, ``Hannicap Circus.'' Last week, ``Eminem Presents: The Re-Up,'' a compilation CD featuring Shady Records artists, hit stores. Bizarre only rapped on one verse of one song of the disc.

But on his Web site, Bizarre posted a few new singles, including ``Roman Noodle Soup,'' a take-off on Young B and DJ Webstar's ``Chicken Noodle Soup.''
He raps:

``I can't afford no chicken noodle soup/
That's why I'm at home eatin' Corn Flakes and Fruit Loops/
I'm a big guy who hates all soup/
Eggs 'n' bacon like the fat kid from `Juice.'''

As for the new D12 album, the first since original member Proof was shot and killed in April, Bizarre commented, ``We took it up another level.'' Among the list of collaborators on the yet-to-be named CD are Three 6 Mafia, T.I. and producer Swizz Beatz, Bizarre said.

``I'm excited for this album because I think it's more up-tempo,'' Bizarre said. ``It's the kind of music you can get wild to in the club. I can just imagine performing the songs. I'm excited about performing them because they're so energetic.''

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