The ‘Clown Prince of Hiphop’ is best known for his hit “Just A Friend.”
Biz Markie died last Friday, July 16 at the age of 57 from complications of Type 2 Diabetes. The rapper is best known for his 1989 hit “Just A Friend.”
Biz Markie will be remembered for the raw and soulful style that he brought to Hip hop. A style that he perfectly exemplified on “Just A Friend” that fans and peers have loved about him ever since.
According to Rolling Stone, Biz Markie was given the title Clown Prince of Hip hop because of his “half-sung and intentionally off-key choruses, riveting beatboxing and silly humor.”
Born on April 8, 1964 in Harlem, New York, Biz Markie, real name Marcel Theo Hall, started out in the late 70’s as a disc jockey and released mixtapes. Peers credit Biz Markie as an influential artist who was there in the golden age of Hip hop and was among the first artists that broke through in the mainstream in the early days of the genre.
He released his debut album titled “Goin’ Off” in 1988 and got a fair amount of buzz with the single “Make Music with Your Mouth, Biz” along with a couple of underground hit singles such as “Pickin’ Boogers,” “Nobody Beats The Biz,” and “Vapors.”
But it was his 1989 album “The Biz Never Sleeps” released on the Cold Chillin’ label under Warner Bros. Records that got him wide acclaim. “Just A Friend” saw Biz Markie alternating rap and singing over the 1968 song “You Got What I Need” by Freddie Scott. The track became Biz Markie’s most successful single ever.
The song is included in VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip hop Songs of All Time, as well as making it to VH1’s Greatest One Hit Wonders listing.
Though he only had one hit, Biz Markie was a respected figure in Hip hop and has remained culturally significant since.
He appeared in Men in Black II, playing as an alien parody of himself whose language is beatboxing, with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. His song ‘Vapors” was used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as did “Pickin’ Boogers” on the Saints Row video game. He’s also appeared on several TV shows among them Celebrity Fit Club, Nick Cannon’s Wild n’ Out and on the Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba!, as well as reciting his famous “Oh Snap! Guess what I saw!” line from “Just A Friend” on a Radio Shack commercial. Biz Markie also appeared on an episode of Spongebob Square Pants, Sharknado 2: The Second One, as well as appearing on an episode of Empire as himself.
An official statement from his representative said, “It is with profound sadness that we announce, this evening, with his wife Tara by his side, Hip hop pioneer Biz Marke peacefully passed away. We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we received during this difficult time. Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music spanning over 35 years. He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter. We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one.”