December 6, 2022


Art Is Experience

Biz Markie, jubilant ‘Just a Friend’ rap star, dies at 57

Biz Markie, the New York rapper whose jubilant, bawdy charisma built him a single of the most idiosyncratic hip-hop figures ever to break into the top ten, died on Friday. He was 57.

“It is with profound disappointment that we announce, this evening, with his spouse Tara by his aspect, Hip Hop pioneer Biz Markie peacefully passed away,” a agent for the rapper explained in a assertion. “We are grateful for the several calls and prayers of assistance that we have received all through this challenging time. Biz made a legacy of artistry that will endlessly be celebrated by his sector friends and his beloved enthusiasts whose lives he was capable to touch by means of music, spanning around 35 years. He leaves guiding a spouse, several relatives associates and shut mates who will miss out on his lively persona, frequent jokes and frequent banter. We respectfully request privateness for his relatives as they mourn their cherished a single.”

The agent did not give a cause of demise, but Markie had battled diabetes in modern years.

Born Marcel Theo Hall on April 8, 1964, in Harlem, N.Y., Markie was a pivotal figure in early hip-hop, very best acknowledged for his endearingly warbly 1989 solitary “Just a Friend” that continues to be a pop-lifestyle staple, continue to listened to (and sung together to) at rap festivals and karaoke bars. Although Markie embraced the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” label, he also bore the brunt of a 1991 lawsuit that initial outlined rising law close to sampling, a ruling that endlessly altered the music sector and the craft of building hip-hop.

Biz Markie, in a cap with upturned brim, leans back as he raps into a microphone.

Biz Markie performs in London in 1988.

(David Corio / Redferns)

Markie grew up on Prolonged Island and attained early renown close to New York City’s road-party circuit for his prowess at beatboxing — imitating the sound of drum machines and turntables with your voice — which he invoked on his breakthrough solitary, “Make the Songs with Your Mouth, Biz” from his 1988 debut album, “Goin’ Off.” That LP, with condition-of-the-art sampling from producer Marley Marl and some ghostwritten lyrics from Significant Daddy Kane, sported this sort of road hits as “Vapors” and “Nobody Beats the Biz,” exactly where Biz riffed on the hook from a area electronics shop marketing jingle to boast, “You won’t be combating or illing, you are going to just be partying / I came to have pleasurable and, not be quantity a single.”

That feeling of free, self-knowledgeable attraction was a entire world aside from the ferocity of friends like Community Enemy or N.W.A. But Markie had a playfulness and an off-critical, enthusiastic musicality that turned out to have pop probable. His 2nd LP, “The Biz By no means Sleeps,” contained the solitary “Just a Close friend,” adapted from Freddie Scott’s 1968 song “(You) Acquired What I Have to have.” “Just a Close friend,” a catalog of woe-is-me intimate travails shipped in a charmingly pitch-agnostic wail, reached No. nine on the Billboard Very hot a hundred in 1989 and became Markie’s defining solitary for the relaxation of his vocation. Acts from the Beastie Boys, fifty Cent, Nas and steel titans Anthrax sampled or alluded to it on report, and its video clip — with Biz dressed as Mozart taking part in piano — was an early MTV fixture.

But his hot streak would hit a wall on his 3rd LP, “I Have to have a Haircut,” which liberally made use of a sample of Irish singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s maudlin 1972 solitary “Alone All over again (Normally)” for the track “Alone All over again.” Although sampling was a prevalent follow in hip-hop, O’Sullivan brought a prosperous copyright lawsuit in opposition to Markie, his producers and his label, Warner Bros. Records, marking the initial time an artist was granted an injunction around unauthorized sampling. Warner Bros. was compelled to operate an advertisement in the Jan. four, 1992, problem of Billboard magazine requesting that suppliers return all unsold copies of “I Have to have a Haircut.”

The ad read, in aspect: “It is vital that you immediately adhere to this purchase or risk critical adverse authorized implications, both of those civil and legal in mother nature.” The ruling, and subsequent settlement compensated to O’Sullivan, would permanently change the sonic and artistic landscape of hip-hop, turning a formative manufacturing technique into a authorized and fiscal minefield for rappers who needed to sample other people’s music for their personal.

The setback didn’t dampen Markie’s spirits even if it established his vocation on edge (his followup LP was titled “All Samples Cleared!”). He protected nation singer Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Career and Shove It” on the blow-off-work-endlessly comedy movie “Office Area,” guested on 3 Beastie Boys albums (their model of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” is uproariously joyful), and played a beatboxing alien in “Men In Black II” opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. In 2009, Heineken beer assisted turn “Just a Friend” from a single-hit-speculate to multi-generational earworm in a ubiquitous singalong industrial reminding men and women to “let a stranger generate you property.”

Markie, an affable and lovable figure, became an unofficial goodwill ambassador for early hip-hop: He was the DJ on the brief-lived VH1 recreation demonstrate “Hip Hop Squares” and hosted his personal outdated-faculty hip-hop demonstrate on SiriusXM radio. Generation Z children and their mom and dad could possibly try to remember his beatboxing section on the madcap Nickelodeon demonstrate “Yo! Gabba Gabba.”

Markie was identified with Style 2 diabetes in 2010 but shed a sizeable amount of weight and ongoing to tour and report commonly. In 2020, the rapper was hospitalized for troubles associated to his diabetes, according to TMZ. In April of this calendar year, former collaborator Kane told the syndicated morning radio demonstrate “The Breakfast Club” that Markie had a short while ago endured a stroke. “He’s in rehabilitation now,” Kane explained. “He’s having far better and stronger every single day.”

Markie is survived by his spouse, Tara Hall.