The Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, Biz Markie passed away yesterday Friday July 19th at 57 years old.
Biz was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late 40s and lost 140 pounds in the years that followed.
Biz Markie was born to embrace hip-hop. Originally from Harlem but he later moved to Long Island where he gained notoriety by his early teen years for beat boxing and rhyming.
A local hero to kids around the neighborhood, “The Biz” began his journey to musical anarchy, beat boxing his way into hip-hop heads hearts and delivering humorous, witty rhymes that made him loved and admired by music fans all over.
He first signed to Prism/Cold Chillin’ Records in 1988, Biz would subsequently sign to Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. With his Biz Markie dance and amusing, beat-down look, Biz was like a human cartoon.
His 1988 debut album release “Goin’ Off” featured the hip hop classic “Vapors.” Plus the single “Nobody Beats the Biz,” and he recorded the first ever human beatbox track with “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz.”
Biz Markie followed up his debut album, the following year in 1989 with “The Biz Never Sleeps.” That album would feature his biggest single, the platinum “Just A Friend.” A Top 10 Billboard hit, the song was sampled in 2002 by Mario for his “Just a Friend 2002.”
In 1991 Biz would release the album, that would change the sampling game forever. In the midst of his 5 year upward success with the Warner Bros. Biz Markie soon became the first rap artist to be sued for sample clearance.
The case involving Biz Markie sampling the Gilbert O’Sullivan song “Alone Again (Naturally)” prompted more than a few major labels to initiate clearing procedures. Consequently, many hip hop albums were delayed for up to 8 months after this ruling.
The plaintiff was granted a preliminary injunction to stop all manufacture, distribution and sale of “I Need A Haircut.” That suit involved an unauthorized sample of O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally” on a similarly titled Markie track.
As a result Biz Markie‘s album was yanked from store shelves just two months after it had been released and the Biz Markie Sample Law was instituted. The law served as a stinging reminder for music samplers everywhere to pay close mind to their business and music-making tactics.
After that debacle, Biz released his final album on Warner Bros. in 1993, hilariously titled “All Samples Cleared!” The album featured the hit single “Let Me Turn You On.” The final album recorded by Biz Markie was 2003‘s “Weekend Warrior.”
Biz Markie has hosted Grammy After Parties, The Pre-Oscar Party, Will Smith Movie Premiere Events, Chris Rock’s No Apologies tour, events hosted by The Magic Johnson Foundation, State Farm (50 Million Pound Challenge), ESPN as well as for such annual occasions as the Super Bowl, NBA Allstar Weekend, CIAA Weekend, Essence Festival and more.
The Biz Markie brand also achieved commercial success for corporate sponsors such as Capt’n Crunch, Verizon, Pepsi Cola Corporation, Budweiser and more.
Biz’s television credits include Nick Jr’s Yo Gabba Gabba doing “Biz’s Beat of the Day”, Sharknado 2, Spongebob Squarepants, Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘n Out on MTV, MAD TV, Hip-Hop Squares, VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, and In Living Color.
Biz has appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, The Jimmy Kimmel Show and The Meredith Vieira Show.
Help Us Celebrate The Amazing Talent that Was Biz Markie!