Maybe we need to start looking at things a little closer. Apparently, few years back one of the most respected music outlets, at least at that time, compiled a list of the greatest one-hit wonders of all times. Granted the list was to be a tongue-in-cheek humorous undertaking, but inclusion of certain genres of music on said list should be held with a grain of salt since that flavor (hip hop or R&B) was not exactly palatable for their taste buds. With that, it’s time that we stop looking at our music through the Christopher Columbus-type prism of people discovering and critiquing our art and start to administer a more serious, Critical Rap Theory, esteemed look at hip hop. Occupying No. 81 on the list was the artist Biz Markie. When you read that name and you’re more than a casual fan of that sphere of music you might say to yourself, “Biz Markie; ONE hit?” The tune referenced was a top ten Billboard 100, platinum-selling smash called “Just A Friend” and was the biggest selling song of his career, but by the time that record was released in 1990, Biz was a solidified fixture in hip hop. Straight Facts!!
Take for instance a scene from the docu-series, “Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America,” where Hot 97 legend Funk Master Flex recollected an incident with Biz Markie. To set the table, it was during the height of tension between the KRS One led Boogie Down Productions faculty and the Juice Crew, in which Biz Markie was a member. “BDP was performing at the Latin Quarters, it had to be 1987 and Kris (KRS One) bodies the place. Biz goes on stage right after KRS and says to Cool V (his DJ) let these people know who’s gonna be here next week. They throw on ‘Nobody Beats The Biz,’ and sends the club into a frenzy.” That same song threw clubs into a frenzy in 2007. Sounds like a hit to me. So did “Make the Music with Your Mouth,” “Goin’ Off,” “Spring Again,” “Something for the Radio,” and his best work “Vapors.”
Dubbed the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop” because of his boisterous personality and irreverent humor Biz Markie is far from a punchline in the culture. You could liken him to a torchbearer. His name harkens back to the processors Busy Bee and Luv Bug Starski, who had similar crowd rocking stylings and his rendering of the DJ Hollywood classic routine “Let Me Turn You On,” took you back to what hip hop sounded like before it was committed to wax.
Stands to reason that a Harlemite, at least by birth, would help to carry the tradition and push the music forward. That’s the effect, in a nutshell, of Biz Markie in my eyes.
Marcel Theo Hall, as he was born, has after many rumors and speculations, met his demise. His ultimate impact was expressed by loved ones and fans as expressed below:
“A GOOD heart stopped beating this evening… and I was there for the last one….Biz Fought till the end, like the true legend he is. Biz passed his strength to me during his transition while holding his hand. He knows I’ll need it to carry on the rest of my life without him.
Tara Davis, Wife
“I can remember so many times trying to beat box like you until my lips was sore & whenever we saw each other your energy was always so full of Life/Love/& Good Vibes. Your impact in the culture Is 4EVER & you will NEVER be Forgotten. Rest king @BizMarkie.”
When I was a teenager we used to sneak out on Monday night to hit the hottest party in NYC. Soul Kitchen taught me how let music live in my body. Whenever we saw Biz on the 1s & 2s we were in awe. He was a genius. Rest In Peace and Soul
This one hurts baad … RIP to my Aries bro… ahhh man @BizMarkie damn im gonna miss u so so many memories.. hurts bad. My FRIEND
“He could get on and rock a crowd whatever the circumstance––from his legendary early appearances at the Latin Quarter in New York City to the Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park,” he concluded. “Once he was doing a DJ set opening up for us––just him, records, a mic and the audience singing along––and the power suddenly cut out. He didn’t miss a beat, human beatboxing and singing a cappella without amplification. He could not be stopped. Biz, we love you and we miss you and we are so grateful for everything we got to do together and make in the time we had.”
Mike D, Beastie Boys
Over and Out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.