On July 16, 2021, the world lost one of the pioneers of hip hop. At the age of 57, Biz Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) lost his fight for life against complications involving his Type 2 diabetes and a stroke that led to a diabetic coma.
Biz started his career with an appearance from the documentary Big Fun in the Big Town in 1986: he provided beatbox with performer Roxanne Shanté. He debuted his first album Goin’ Off in 1988. Some of his classic tracks include “Vapors,” “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz,” and “Nobody Beats the Biz” where he shows off his skill at dozens.
His fame came from his second album The Biz Never Sleeps in 1989. Although some of his tracks (e.g. “Spring Again”) were ok, it was his forever classic “Just A Friend” that took over. The music video is a classic in its own right. Even Beavis and Butthead gave the song a “cool.”
Biz’s trouble began with his third album I Need A Haircut in 1991. Because of the track “Alone Again,” it attracted the attention of Gilbert O’Sullivan. Sullivan is the singer-songwriter of the song “Alone Again (Naturally)” released in 1972. He challenged Biz’s sampling and won: the lawsuit forever changed hip hop as sampling other work must be preapproved by the original authors and/or owners or else a lawsuit is made. The aftermath hurt Biz’s next album and hip hop began to be expensive.
But Biz is also an actor, appearing in TV shows like the classic In Living Color in the classic Dirty Dozens sketch and doing the “Biz’s Beat of the Day” for the show Yo Gabba Gabba! He was the beatboxing alien in Men in Black II.
To end this segment, here’s a clip of Biz Markie singing the Elton John classic “Bennie and the Jets.” He always knew how to show the crowd a good time. NOBODY BEATS THE BIZZZZ.