The Detroit MGM Grand is lavish and dimly lit. There are light settings in each room that don't go above "medium low." It's not the kind of place you'd talk about the paralysis brought on by cosmic baked goods—it's better suited for eating steak dinners and watching girls in high heels blow on craps dice for luck. Actually, that was probably happening somewhere in the hotel casino last Monday, May 17, while rapper Bizarre, of Eminem's inimitable D12 crew, was telling me about the kind of brownie that's chewy and chocolate and usually loaded with garden variety weed. But he had recently devoured one that mixed the usual fare with kush—the kind that would make a marijuana master displace his grasp on navigating planet earth. (Listen to the full interview in the audio clip below, and read the rest of the antics after the jump.)
Bizarre and I spent more time talking about his plans to celebrate the release of his third solo album Fridays at St. Andrew's, instead of the artistic process it took to get there. He told me about missing a performance in Flint, Michigan for being far too stoned on kush pot brownies to actually set foot on stage—and that's why he wouldn't be eating them before the show at the place of his album's namesake that night, but afterwards.
The trip to St. Andrew's Hall for his album release show was weird. Being carted in a van from the hotel with other writers felt like a rap journalism summer camp, and whatever surreal feelings that brought on were overshadowed by the oddity of Detroit's empty streets. We saw not a single pedestrian or public bus. Not one. Someone made an unfunny joke in the car about not having to worry about getting shot because we were all "too old," and there was something really cold and sad about just how desolate Detroit felt. But as we neared the storied St. Andrew's, the mood turned into subtle giddiness: 8 Mile was filmed here.
Bizarre's opening acts included a lip syncing, Jersey Shore styled rap crew, Blunt Squad, sandwiched between rap rockers Anamul House and Hush. Another weed warrior, King Gordy, took to the stage with an enormous bottle of Dr. Pepper and sunglasses shaped like pot leaves, making it hard to take his rapping devil shtick seriously—but the audience was excited and that's what's important. Their enthusiasm escalated for Nappy Roots, who were polished, tough and engaging, and set a really good tone for Bizarre's DJ to get the crowd ready. He put on Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement" and while there weren't crickets, as a New Yorker accustomed to rowdiness any time Hov comes over a sound system, it was strange not to see anyone freak out. When "PSA" was cut short for a litany of hometown hits (I am pretty sure I had never heard any of them before), people lost their minds. Bizarre stood to the side of stage, dressed as a pot leaf. I don't think anyone who wasn't in the balcony could see the get up, so it was sort of too bad that he ultimately emerged wearing all black and his signature shower cap. He ran through new songs—"Pussy" and "Rock It Out" and was joined on stage with members of Anamul House and King Gordy. A singer named Monica Blaire, who is on some serious Kelis meets Erykah Badu steez, sang with him on "Emotions." One of the highlights was when Yelawolf came out to perform their new collab, "Down this Road." There is something about Yelawolf that is so captivating, his long limbs orchestrating crowd command almost supernaturally. When he was left onstage alone to perform his dark hit "Pop the Trunk," it was hard to feel like he wasn't about to take over. But on a night to celebrate his new album, in his hometown, Bizarre's prominence could not be overshadowed. He talked to the crowd about weed lollipops and brought out his D12 brothers to perform their singles, "Purple Pills" and "My Band," with the natural ease of kings in the comfort of home.
Just as they were finishing up his single "Believer," I had to rush out of St. Andrews—I was leaving for New York in three hours and I'm a relatively sensible girl. I wouldn't even eat a weed brownie with my best friend (I'm too neurotic for anything other than a six pack or two), so I wasn't going to indulge with D12 at the afterparty. Back at the ranch, my dreams were filled with the kind of paranoiac visions that only come when you've gone to bed far too late to wake up criminally early in the morning. Would I sleep through my three alarms and wake up call? What if I forgot to check out and just hopped in my cab and went to the airport? What if I fell asleep at my airplane gate and missed my flight home? With so many worries, I probably should have just kicked it with D12 and absorbed the weed-paranoia of their all-nighter. I felt halfway like I did, anyway.