Biz Markie
By: Tucker Cummings | Categories: Cusper, HiLo Heroes, Hip Hop, Music

biz markie

“OH BABY, YOU… YOU GOT WHAT I NEED!” Though his “Just a Friend” first hit the airwaves in 1989, to this day people love shouting along with BIZ MARKIE (Marcel Theo Hall, born 1964), the Clown Prince of Hip Hop. After getting his start beatboxing on Roxanne Shante’s “Def Fresh Crew” in 1986, and releasing his own debut single (“Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz”) the same year, then cracking the Top 10 chart with “Just a Friend,” it seemed like Biz was on the rise. But then came the 1991 copyright case Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., which found that Biz’s song “Alone Again” (from his album I Need a Haircut) had infringed upon singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan’s copyright by sampling from his song “Alone Again (Naturally).” The entire hip hop industry was affected by this ruling, and Biz in particular: his rep and sales were permanently damaged. These days, Biz’s extracurriculars are as eclectic as his beats: he’s appeared on the kid’s show Yo Gabba Gabba, parodied himself in Men in Black II, dropped weight on Celebrity Fit Club, and provided voiceovers for Adventure Time. He even partnered with LivingSocial in 2012 to teach a class on healthy cooking. Energetic, earnest, and ever so charming, Biz Markie is a warm-hearted reminder of just how fun hip hop used to be before violence, sex, and materialism changed the genre.

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HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc as HiLo Hero | Gil Scott-Heron as HiLo Hero | Slick Rick as HiLo Hero | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels as HiLo Hero | Afrika Bambaataa as HiLo Hero | Biz Markie as HiLo Hero | Eric B as HiLo Hero (forthcoming in November) | U-God as HiLo Hero | Slug as HiLo Hero | Adam Yauch as HiLo Hero | Ghostface Killah as HiLo Hero | DJ Run as HiLo Hero | Flavor Flav as HiLo Hero | Scott La Rock as HiLo Hero | GZA as HiLo Hero | Schoolly D as HiLo Hero | Aesop Rock as HiLo Hero | Notorious B.I.G. as HiLo Hero | Melle Mel as HiLo Hero | Rick Rubin as HiLo Hero | Rakim as HiLo Hero | Ol’ Dirty Bastard as HiLo Hero | Madlib as HiLo Hero | Talib Kweli as HiLo Hero | Danger Mouse as HiLo Hero | Kool Moe Dee as HiLo Hero | Chuck D as HiLo Hero | Dizzee Rascal as HiLo Hero | RZA as HiLo Hero | Cee-Lo Green as HiLo Hero | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Edmund Husserl, Vivienne Westwood, Yip Harburg.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Original Generation X (1954–63) and Reconstructionist (1964–73) Generation.

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Tucker Cummings is a writer whose projects include The Strange Adventures of Margery Jones, a 365-part fiction serial about parallel universes. She also has a microfiction piece featured in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. Hers was the winning story in HiLobrow's kooky-spooky fiction contest.