The Legend of Biz Markie
The culture of Hip Hop is often serious because the inner city and poverty is serious. The lifestyle is dissected within the art. Art imitates life and vice versa. As the world turns you have to find a reason to smile. Laughter can keep the soul healthy. Laughter is essential in life. Music has the power of healing and this healing has literally changed lives. Speaking for myself, I remember growing up in a community that had challenges. I grew up around good people, bad people, love, hate, drugs, guns, friends and family that loved me unconditionally. At the same time, I saw people who were often “angry” as well. When it came to Hip Hop and Rap Music, I found escapism like no other. As a grown man, I still find a way to get lost in the music whenever I’m dealing with some of life’s emotions. When I think back on MC’s that made me feel good, I think about Biz Markie.
Biz Markie is one of the most unique MC’s and figures in the history of our culture. There is only one Biz Markie. I laugh as I write these thoughts for you all. At the present moment, I’m listening to “Spring Again” on YouTube. “Spring Again” was one of the singles off The Biz Never Sleeps, released in 1989. The Biz Never Sleeps also had the Top 10 Hit “Just A Friend” that is still internationally respected almost 30 years later. You can hear “Just A Friend” at Karaoke performances by drunken patrons in every other city. Now, let me also say that Biz Markie is a Hip Hop pioneer whose contribution started much earlier than 1989. Biz was rapping around the way in 1985 and was also destroying Beatbox Competitions. In 1988 Biz released his debut album Goin’ Off, which made him a respected figure in New York during the same era where Rakim, KRS, Kool G. Rap, LL Cool J and Big Daddy Kane reigned supreme. Speaking of Big Daddy Kane, legend has it that Biz approached Kane in a Shopping Center, they battled, and Biz took Kane under his wing before Kane was offered a record deal. Big Daddy Kane is credited for writing the majority of Biz Markie’s debut album. You can hear Kane’s story told on the underground classic “Vapors.”
On the Hip Hop Documentary THE MC, KRS One stated that Goin' Off was one of the 5 essential Rap Albums he would play for a person who had never heard Rap Music before. As a Hip Hop fan, it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you go to the club Biz Markie has songs that still rock the party. During Old School Sets, you will hear “Nobody Beats The Biz” and “Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz” from his debut Goin’ Off. When you think of landmark albums during this time, the usual suspects are Follow the Leader, It Takes A Nation Of Millions, Long Live The Kane and The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. You will seldom hear the back to back classics Biz Markie released in 1988 and 1989. Biz was affiliated (Not Official Member) with The Juice Crew and Marley Marl produced his debut album. After 5 studio albums and Compilations, Biz Markie started spending most of his time Djing. Biz is actually one of the most demanded DJ’s in America. Biz rocks parties globally and continues to be a staple in our culture. The funny thing about Biz is the fact that some fans don’t look at him as an MC because of his character and antics. Biz had a dope voice, flow, presence on the mic and underrated storytelling ability. I still listen to “Young Girls Bluez” off All Sampled Cleared.
“Biz Markie is one of my favorite MC’s. He made me feel good. He was funny.” – NORE #DrinkChamps
“Biz Markie album Goin’ Off is one of Hip Hop's most essential albums.” - KRS-One
Speaking of samples, Biz Markie changed Hip Hop in 1991 as the result of a lawsuit. Early in 1991 Biz 3rd album I Need A Haircut was released. The English Singer Gilbert O’Sullivan filed a lawsuit stating that Biz song “Alone Again” featured an unauthorized sample from his song Alone Again (Naturally). O’Sullivan’s claim was upheld in a landmark ruling that changed the course of Hip Hop and Rap Music forever. In the early days of Hip Hop, artist pretty much took pieces of other musician’s songs and incorporated it into their songs with pretty much no issues. After Biz Markie’s situation, all companies had to clear samples with the original artist (Company or Estate) before the music could be released for sale. As a result of the ruling, Warner Brothers (parent of Cold Chillin Records) were forced to pull I Need A Haircut from circulation to get all of the samples cleared, and then the album could be re-released. Think about how pivotal this was for Rap Music. The culture had gained so much popularity that artists from other genre were actually paying attention. Artist wanted to make sure they were going to be paid for having their work sampled. They would also be heavily compensated for their music being sampled moving forward. This also started the rise in Mixtapes. Artist would sample songs but not get them cleared. They would sale their music on the streets or give music away for free as they worked on official albums with Record Labels. Biz, being the comedian that he is affectionately named is next album All Samples Cleared.
The Legend of Biz Markie can’t be ignored. When you hear humor in Hip Hop, it truly started with Biz Markie. When you see characters with personalities in Hip Hop, it truly started with Biz Markie. Biz Markie is a national treasure in our culture. Biz is an actor, comedian, producer and television personality. If you go back and listen to his music, you can hear where generations of MC’s were influenced by Biz Markie. When you think about the greatest MC’s, it’s not just about spitting hot lines. Great MC’s have the ability to make songs that last for generations. “Nobody Beats The Biz”, “Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz” and “Just A Friend” will outlive Biz Markie which is the duty of classic material. When you look into the archives of early Hip Hop, Biz Markie will be there with all of our legends.
Biz Markie - "Young Girls Bluez"...