Biz Markie, who died at 57 after suffering from diabetes, earned the nickname “Clown Prince of Rap” for the way he preferred humor and melody to the guns and gangs spread through the lyrics of more rappers. Menacing gangsta style. He was a fan of comedians Benny Hill and Richard Pryor, and admitted that “I’d rather smile than be serious.” His greatest success Just a friend (1989), was a sad account of her efforts to persuade a girl that “you have what I need!”, Only to find that her progress is blocked by another boy who, according to her, was “just a friend.” .
Over a hard-hitting beat accompanied by a tinkling piano, the story was told with ironic theatricality by Markie, who beat it energetically in the chorus of wailing, and it reached number 9 on the Billboard charts. “I knew if I mixed Lee Dorsey’s Get Out of My Life, Woman drums with Freddie Scott’s You Got What I Need, it would go platinum,” he said. The song was fueled by a video featuring Mozart’s impersonation of Markie, hitting a keyboard while dressed in a cape, ruffled shirt, and wig. Markie insisted that “the song is totally true. A girl from California. She despised me, treated me like a couple of dirty drawers. “
Another of Markie’s claims of fame was being at the center of an event that dealt a body shot to hip-hop. His third album, I Need a Haircut (1991), sold slowly at release, but hit the buffer catastrophically when Gilbert O’Sullivan filed a lawsuit against Markie for using an unauthorized 20-second sample of his 1972 hit. Alone again … naturally) on the track Just one more time. O’Sullivan’s claim was upheld in the landmark Grand Upright Music Ltd judgment against Warner Bros Records Inc, and Markie was ordered to pay $ 250,000 in damages. The decision caused a seismic shock in the world of hip-hop and beyond, since from now on all samples would have to be legally approved with the original artists and duly paid. Warner Bros removed I Need a Haircut from sale.
Markie’s fourth album was titled All Samples Cleared! (1993), and the cover featured a recreation of the courtroom scene, with Markie playing the judge and the defendant, but none of this was enough to make it a hit.
One of six siblings, Marcel Theo Hall was born in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and grew up in Patchogue on Long Island. At Longwood High School in Suffolk County he earned a reputation as a prankster. He adopted the alias Biz Markie when he was 14 years old and described how it was derived from “the first hip-hop tape I ever heard. It was ’77, ’78, by the L brothers. “One of the rappers on the tape was Busy Bee Starski, and the name appealed to him.” My name used to be Bizzy B Markie, and after a while I put the Biz on it. Markie. My nickname in my neighborhood was Markie. ” Developed a gift for rhyme and beatboxing, his work shows the wit and playfulness that would become his trademark.
He carved out a niche in the music business by beatboxing for Roxanne Shante of the Juice Crew collective, and made his way by playing Long Island house parties and participating in rap battles, and later working as a DJ at nightclubs in LA. New York City. As word spread about his abilities, he found himself in high demand at clubs in Washington, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Markie approached producer Marly Marl (real name Marlon Williams), one of the founders of Juice Crew, to do some demo tapes, and Marl directed his 1985 single Def Fresh Crew, which featured Shante. He signed with Prism Records and released singles including Just rhyme with Biz, in which he formed a duet with Big Daddy Kane.
In 1988 he recorded his debut album, Goin ‘Off, for Cold Chillin’ Records (the new name for Prism, now distributed by Warner Bros). It was produced by Marl and featured Kane’s lyrics on five tracks, including the single Picking up snot. This started with a warning: “Now this may sound disgusting and kind of gross.” A prominent track was Make the music with your mouth, Biz, a showcase of his beatboxing skills. The hip-hop guide Bring the Noise (1991) praised his ability to “hit like a kick drum or chat like a hambone.”
His second album, The Biz Never Sleeps (1989, which advertised Markie as “The Diabolical Biz Markie”), contained Just a Friend. However, in the wake of the copyright lawsuit, Markie’s career took a new direction as he focused on DJing rather than recording. He had an acting role in the movie Meteor Man (1993), appeared on the television show In Living Color, and filmed a freestyle rap commercial for MTV2. He appeared as a guest artist on the Beastie Boys albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty.
In 1996 he appeared alongside the Wu-Tang Clan, Coolio and others on the album America Is Dying Slowly, which aimed to raise awareness of AIDS among African American men. In 1997, a sample of his track A One Two was used in the Rolling Stones song. Has anyone seen my baby? from their album Bridges to Babylon (making it the only Stones song to use sampling).
Markie appeared in the movies Men in Black II (2002, playing a beatboxing alien) and Sharknado II (2014), and on numerous television shows. In 2005 he participated in the VH1 Celebrity Fit Club, a weight loss competition in which Markie lost more pounds than any other contestant. He filmed commercials for Radio Shack, Heineken, Budweiser, and many more.
It wasn’t until 2003 that he released a new album, the ramshackle and intermittently adorable Weekend Warrior. “I don’t want to sound like a 50-year-old rapper trying too hard,” he said. “If I’m going to make a record, I will do it because I want to make a record.”
Markie happily acknowledged his admiration for mainstream singers like Elton John or Barry Manilow – “I’m here to entertain and make people happy,” he said – and looked back fondly at the narrow New York underground scene, the so-called “old school. “from which it arose. He had appeared with many of his New York countrymen, including Shante, LL Cool J and Run-DMC in the documentary Big Fun in the Big Town (1986), made for Dutch television and now considered a cult classic. In 2016 he joined other veterans, including A Flock of Seagulls and Tiffany, on an 1980s cruise to the Caribbean.
Markie suffered from persistent weight problems, at one stage he weighed 175 kg (27 7 pounds). “I ate, ate, ate, did not exercise, went to sleep, ate and ate,” he said. In 2020, he was hospitalized after suffering complications from type 2 diabetes. At the end of the year, he was reportedly in a rehab center, having suffered a stroke after going into a diabetic coma, and died in hospital from complications.
He is survived by his wife, Tara (née Davis), whom he married in 2005.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism