Hip-Hop’s ‘Just a Friend’ Clown Prince Biz Markie dies at 57


Innovative but proudly dumb rapper, DJ, and producer Biz Markie cries out on songs like smug lyrics and keyless. “just friends” He was nicknamed the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, he died Friday. He was 57 years old.

His manager, Jenni Izumi, did not reveal the cause of death.

He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late 40s and said he lost 140 pounds in the years that followed. “I wanted to live” told ABC News in 2014.

A native New Yorker and an early collaborator with hip-hop pioneers like Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, and Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie started out as a young beatboxer and freestyle rapper. Eventually, he made a name for himself as the resident court jester of the Queensbridge-based collective Juice Crew and Cold Chillin’ label. influential radio DJ Mr. magic.

On her debut album “Goin’ Off” (1988), Biz Markie introduced herself as a clumsy starter with a boyish sense of humor – the opening track “Slime Collectors” That’s exactly what he was about – but his charm and skills were undeniable, which made him a reasonable sale to an increasingly rap-savvy crossover audience.

With direct, often mundane lyrics written in part by his childhood friend Big Daddy Kane, We Markie was a hip-hop Everyman whose main love was music, a journey he parted ways with a James Brown sample in his first hip-hop hit. biographical “Steams”; Snoop Doggy Dogg later adapted the song for his own 1997 version.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be with a bunch of MC-DJ crews in town,” us Markie rapped. “So at the school on Noble Street, I say ‘Can I come down champ’/They said no and treated me like wet food stamps.”

However, Biz Markie soon surpassed its commercial peers to become a pop sensation with the unexpected 1989 “Just a Friend” from Cold Chillin’ and Warner Bros’ “The Biz Never Sleeps”. To the tune of the 1968 song “(You) Got What I Need” recorded by Freddie Scott and written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Biz Markie tells a long story about being unlucky in love.

But what made the song indelible was her bitter, harsh singing in the song’s chorus – along with the “yo’ mama” jokes and the Mozart costume she wore in the music video: “Oh, baaaaby, you / you got what I got neeeee/But you say he’s just a friend/But you say he’s just a friend.”

Writing for The New York Times, critic Kelefa Sanneh called Biz Markie the “father of modern bad singing” and wrote: “His roaring pleading – wildly dissonant and utterly unforgettable – sounded like something concocted after a day of romantic disappointments and a busy night.”

We Markie said he should never have been the vocalist who handled these notes. “I asked people to sing the song and no one came to the studio” later explained“I did it myself.”

“Just a Friend” would go platinum, reaching #5 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart and #9 on the all-genre Hot 100. Howard Stern and Frankie Crocker and white stations all over the country started playing it.” And while Biz Markie may never reach the top of “Just a Friend” again – he failed to hit another Hot 100 single – he ignored those who referred to him as a one-hit wonder.

“I don’t feel bad,” he said. “I know what I’m doing in hip-hop.”

Marcel Theo Hall was born on April 8, 1964 in Harlem. He grew up on Long Island, where he became known in the neighborhood as Markie, and got his original stage name Bizzy B Markie from the first hip-hop tape heard by the L Brothers in the late 1970s. Busy Bee Starski. Always known as a prankster, he is said to have once given a laxative-laced cake to his high school vice principal.

While his rhymes remain a source of distrust, he has improved his performance as a DJ and beatboxer at Manhattan nightclubs like Roxy. By the mid-1980s, he had joined the Juice Crew, whose members began to feature him on recordings and eventually worked with him on lyrics and delivery.

“When I felt like I was good enough, I went to Marley Marl’s house and sat on her porch every day until she noticed me, and that’s how I started,” she said.

In 1986 Biz Markie provided extravagant oral percussion on “The Def Fresh Crew,” one of Roxanne Shanté’s earliest recordings. In the same year, he released an EP titled “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz” produced by Marley Marl, who calls himself the Inhuman Orchestra.

“You’ll be shocked and surprised when you hear me do it” rapped the title track, which will also serve as a single from his official debut, “Goin’ Off.” “It’s a whole new thing they call the human beatbox craze.”

But after the success of their first two albums, Biz Markie’s third album would become part of hip-hop history for non-musical reasons, which would still resonate with the genre: a copyright lawsuit.

After the release of “I Need a Haircut” in 1991, Biz Markie and her label were sued by representatives of Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan. )” was sampled without permission in Biz Markie’s movie “Alone Again”. A lawyer for Mr O’Sullivan is called sampling. “a euphemism in the music industry for what others call pickpocketing”; a judge agreeddemanded $250,000 in damages and blocked further distribution of the album.

This decision will help set a precedent in the music industry by requiring pre-approval of even small sampled pieces of music, a cornerstone of hip-hop aesthetics and studio production. A market was held for sampling permission, which remains an important part of the economy behind hip-hop.

“We are because of Markie’s decision”, a record executive he said then“We had to make sure we had written permission on everything beforehand.”

In 1993 Biz Markie released a new album, “All Samples Cleared!” replied with. But his popularity had waned, and this would be his last album for a major label. Ten years later, he returned with his fifth and final album, “Weekend Warrior” (2003), but retained his cultural relevance as a major personality with enduring success in “Just a Friend.”

Full information about the survivors was not immediately available.

Us Markie has appeared on the big and small screens, often as a version of herself. He was seen in the movie “Men in Black II”, heard as a voice on “SpongeBob SquarePants” and appeared on “Black-ish” and the children’s show “Yo” as the beatbox pro behind “Biz’s Beat of the Day”. Gabba Gabba!” He also became a private collector of rare records and toys, including Beanie Babies, Barbies, and television action figures.

But even as a novelty throwback entity, she remained cheery, calling herself “one of the unsung heroes from them” and comparing herself to a McRib sandwich (“they appreciate everything they see when I open it”). 2019 Washington Post interview.

“We’ll be Markie until I die,” he said. “Even after I die We’ll be Markie.”

Michael Levenson contributed.


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