Biz Markie Dies At 57


NPR 16 July, 2021 - 08:15pm 47 views

Biz Markie, an American original born Marcel Theo Hall and a larger-than-life hip-hop figure, has died at the age of 57. Known widely for a career spanning back to 1986, Hall went on to become a beloved cultural figure later in life, celebrated for his spirited personality as much as his massive 1989 hit, "Just A Friend." His death was confirmed by his manager, Jenni D. Izumi.

"We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time," Izumi told NPR via email. "Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years."

Hall had reportedly been ill for months, but Izumi did not provide an official cause of death.

Biz came of age when rap was still young; a free-for-all in terms of approach and style, an era that seemed innocent yet was wildly progressive. He was born in Harlem before moving to Long Island in his early teens. An early introduction for those outside of New York, at least on film, was best captured in the 1986 Dutch hip-hop documentary, Big Fun in the Big Town. In it, we see a tall, lanky beatboxer in a hat emblazoned with big letters spelling out "Biz Markie." He's effusive onstage with fellow crewmate, Roxanne Shanté. They're doing exuberant back-and-forth routines as the camera zooms in on Biz, showcasing the innate ease at which he can pack a party and move a crowd through his voice and natural presence.

He was an early standout in the Juice Crew, a dazzling collective led by producer Marley Marl, a visionary who assembled a team so adept and rich in character it would only be rivaled in the modern age by the otherworldliness of Wu-Tang Clan. The crew, whose affiliates were mostly out of Queensbridge, was founded by radio DJ Mr. Magic and subsequently placed on Tyrone Williams' record label, Cold Chillin' Records. Their first release, 1984's "Roxanne's Revenge," was produced by Marley and featured a 15-year-old Roxanne Shante. The charismatic release became a hit and is largely responsible for Juice Crew's early strides.

The young proto-supergroup consisted of several eventual greats — Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, MC Shan and others. They were the vanguard of their day, a formidable team who emboldened the new school amid rap's explosive mid-'80s popularity. Each member possessed distinct traits. If Kane was the dancing playboy and G Rap the hustler, Biz was the jester, the comic relief in a crew of serious rhyme experts. His delivery was never as dexterous as the others, but he'd use props and costumes to exploit his size, pushed the mic into his neck while beatboxing and made himself the butt of jokes. In a world of braggadocio, his self-deprecation was a refreshing contrast, decidedly humble, a theme he never strayed too far from for the rest of his career. He's warmly dubbed by many as hip-hop's "clown prince."

Biz's first official solo album was 1988's Goin' Off, a debut produced by Marley Marl, anchored by singles that remain among his best; "Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz," "Nobody Beats the Biz," as well as "Vapors," a hilarious four-verse tale of success and envy that proved to be a hit. In the song's final stanza, he endearingly laments: "I say, 'Can I be down, champ?' They said 'No!' and treated me like a wet food stamp."

The Biz Never Sleeps, his sophomore effort, generated not only Markie's most-known song, but also one of rap's most enduring, "Just A Friend." It brilliantly sampled Freddie Scott's "You Got What I Need" and became his biggest single, eventually charting at No. 9 on Billboard. In the music video, Biz dons a powdered wig, gloriously impersonating Mozart on the piano. It was a story-rap about constant rejection, bolstered by an earworm of a chorus. Biz is pictured weeping on the cover of the 12-inch single; big frown, handkerchief and all.

Biz's final studio album, Weekend Warrior, arrived in 2003 and saw him working with producers 45 King and J-Zone, but he made the lion's share of beats. A prominent appearance by P. Diddy affirmed his ennobled status. The album includes a charming late-era track ("Chinese Food"), in which he eulogizes Aaliyah and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez in the intro, before listing all his favorite Chinese dishes in the chorus.

He appeared in the movies too, playing an intercosmic version of himself in Men In Black II. On television, he had a recurring role on the music-centric kid's program, Yo Gabba Gabba! In a charming segment called "Biz's Beat of the Day" he does short instructionals on how to beatbox, often in costume. He also opened for Chris Rock on his No Apologies tour. There were popular t-shirts that widely sold with his face and now famous reactionary quip, "Oh Snap!" When his fandom was at an all-time high, dolls with his likeness, cereal boxes and action figures all became collectable items.

Until word of his recent hospitalization in late July of 2020, you could find Biz on social media, posting toys from his collection or playing 45s while dressed in a onesie. He still toured and did legacy shows and guest appearances seemingly often. He'd post show flyers, vintage ones that felt historical or current ones from tech conventions. There's also pictures of him and fellow legends like Slick Rick and Rakim. His behemoth grin and comedic energy intact, vital as it was in that aforementioned 1986 Dutch documentary.

In 2005, an independent rapper named Edan predicted the coming of this awful day through a track called "Funky Voltron," saying: "'Cause when the beats sound iffy and the kids bark live / It'll be a sad day like when the Bizmark dies." For over 30 years Biz projected joie di vivre easily through humor that was always wholesome and good spirited. His artistry felt inclusive, he wanted us to laugh, to be entertained by his toys and record collection and beats and songs and jokes and the faces he'd make. And we were.

Read full article at NPR

Biz Markie, Hip-Hop’s ‘Just a Friend’ Clown Prince, Dies at 57

The New York Times 16 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

An innovative yet proudly goofy rapper, he had an unlikely crossover hit with a tune that led one critic to call him (favorably) “the father of modern bad singing.”

Biz Markie, the innovative yet proudly goofy rapper, D.J. and producer whose self-deprecating lyrics and off-key wail on songs like “Just a Friend” earned him the nickname Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, died on Friday. He was 57.

His death was confirmed by his manager, Jenni Izumi, who didn’t provide a cause.

He had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late 40s and said that he lost 140 pounds in the years that followed. “I wanted to live,” he told ABC News in 2014.

A native New Yorker and an early collaborator with hip-hop trailblazers like Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté and Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie began as a teenage beatboxer and freestyle rapper. He eventually made a name for himself as the resident court jester of the Queensbridge-based collective the Juice Crew and its Cold Chillin’ label, under the tutelage of the influential radio D.J. Mr. Magic.

On “Goin’ Off” (1988), his debut album, Biz Markie introduced himself as a bumbling upstart with a juvenile sense of humor — the opening track, “Pickin’ Boogers,” was about exactly that — but his charm and his skills were undeniable, making him a plausible sell to an increasingly rap-curious crossover audience.

With direct, often mundane lyrics written in part by his childhood friend Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie was a hip-hop Everyman whose chief love was music, a journey he broke down over a James Brown sample on his first hip-hop hit, the biographical “Vapors”; Snoop Doggy Dogg later adapted the song for his own 1997 version.

“When I was a teenager, I wanted to be down/With a lot of MC-D.J.-ing crews in town,” Biz Markie rapped. “So in school on Noble Street, I say, ‘Can I be down, champ’/They said no, and treated me like a wet food stamp.”

But Biz Markie soon outpaced his peers commercially, becoming a pop sensation with the unlikely 1989 smash “Just a Friend,” from “The Biz Never Sleeps,” which was released by Cold Chillin’ and Warner Bros. Over a plunked piano beat, borrowing its melody from the 1968 song “(You) Got What I Need,” recorded by Freddie Scott and written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Biz Markie raps an extended tale about being unlucky in love.

But it was his pained, rough-edged singing on the song’s chorus — along with the “yo’ mama” jokes and the Mozart costume he wore in the music video — that made the song indelible: “Oh, baaaaby, you/You got what I neeeeeed/But you say he’s just a friend/But you say he’s just a friend.”

Writing in The New York Times, the critic Kelefa Sanneh called Biz Markie “the father of modern bad singing” and wrote, “His bellowed plea — wildly out of tune, and totally unforgettable — sounded like something concocted after a day of romantic disappointments and a night of heavy drinking.”

Biz Markie has said he was never supposed to be the vocalist handling those notes. “I asked people to sing the part, and nobody showed up at the studio,” he explained later, “so I did it myself.”

“Just a Friend” would go platinum, reaching No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart and No. 9 on the all-genre Hot 100. He said he realized how big it had gotten “when Howard Stern and Frankie Crocker and all the white stations around the country started playing it.” And although Biz Markie would never again reach the heights of “Just a Friend” — he failed to land another single on the Hot 100 — he brushed off those who referred to him dismissively as a one-hit wonder.

“I don’t feel bad,” he said. “I know what I did in hip-hop.”

Marcel Theo Hall was born April 8, 1964, in Harlem. He was raised on Long Island, where he was known around the neighborhood as Markie, and he took his original stage name, Bizzy B Markie, from the first hip-hop tape he ever heard in the late 1970s, by the L Brothers, featuring Busy Bee Starski. Always known as a prankster, he was said to have once given his high school vice principal a cake laced with laxatives.

He honed his act as a D.J. and beatboxer at Manhattan nightclubs like the Roxy, although his rhyming remained a source of insecurity. By the mid-1980s, he had fallen in with the Juice Crew, whose members began featuring him on records and eventually working with him on his lyrics and delivery.

“When I felt that I was good enough, I went to Marley Marl’s house and sat on his stoop every day until he noticed me, and that’s how I got my start,” he said.

In 1986, Biz Markie appeared on one of his earliest records, “The Def Fresh Crew” by Roxanne Shanté, providing exaggerated mouth-based percussion. That same year, he released an EP produced by Marley Marl, “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz,” calling himself the Inhuman Orchestra.

“When you hear me do it, you will be shocked and amazed,” he rapped on the title track, which would also serve as a single from “Goin’ Off,” his official debut. “It’s the brand-new thing they call the human beatbox craze.”

But after the success of his first two albums, Biz Markie’s third would become a part of hip-hop history for nonmusical reasons, which would nonetheless reverberate through the genre: a copyright lawsuit.

After the release of that album, “I Need a Haircut,” in 1991, Biz Markie and his label were sued by representatives for the Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, who said eight bars of his 1972 hit “Alone Again (Naturally)” were sampled without permission on Biz Markie’s “Alone Again.” A lawyer for Mr. O’Sullivan called sampling “a euphemism in the music industry for what anyone else would call pickpocketing”; a judge agreed, calling for $250,000 in damages and barring further distribution of the album.

That ruling would help set a precedent in the music industry by requiring that even small chunks of sampled music — a cornerstone of hip-hop aesthetics and studio production — must be approved in advance. A market for sampling clearance took hold, which remains a key part of the economics behind hip-hop.

“Because of the Biz Markie ruling,” one record executive said at the time, “we had to make sure we had written clearance on everything beforehand.”

In 1993, Biz Markie responded with a pointed new album, “All Samples Cleared!” But his popularity had waned, and it would be his last release for a major label. A decade later, he returned with “Weekend Warrior” (2003), his fifth and final album, though he maintained cultural relevance as a big personality with an enduring smash in “Just a Friend.”

Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

Biz Markie made appearances on the big and small screens, usually as a version of himself. He was seen in the movie “Men in Black II,” heard as a voice on “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and appeared on “Black-ish” and as the beatboxing pro behind “Biz’s Beat of the Day” on the children’s show “Yo Gabba Gabba!” He also became a dedicated collector of rare records and toys, including Beanie Babies, Barbies and television action figures.

But even as a novelty throwback presence, he remained jovial, calling himself “one of them unsung heroes” and comparing himself to a McRib sandwich (“when I do pop up they appreciate everything they see”) in a 2019 Washington Post interview.

“I’m going to be Biz Markie until I die,” he said. “Even after I die I’m going to be Biz Markie.”

What was Biz Markie’s net worth?...

The US Sun 16 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

BIZ Markie was a hip hop legend who left a lasting legacy on the music world.

Known as the "Clown Prince of Hip Hop," he began his career working as a human beatbox for acts MC Shan and Roxanne Shanté.

Biz Markie was an American rapper, singer and hip hop legend.

Markie was born in Harlem and started getting noticed while performing at colleges in Washington, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

He released his debut album Goin' Off in 1988, featuring the hit single Make Music With Your Mouth, Biz and underground classics Vapors, Pickin Boogers and Nobody Beats the Biz.

His second album, 1989's The Biz Never Sleeps, features his iconic hit Just A Friend, which peaked at 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. 

The track was later recognized as one of the Top 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders and as one of the 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop by VH1.

Markie spent much of the next few years carving out a role as an actor, with appearances on In Living Color, Men in Black II, Celebrity Fit Club and Wild 'n Out.

The Just a Friend hitmaker passed away after his “battle with diabetes as his wife held his hand during his last breath.”

TMZ confirmed the rapper’s passing, as a family source said he passed away in a Baltimore hospital on July 16, 2021.

As of 2021, Markie had an estimated net worth of $3 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

The majority of his worth is believed to have been generated from song royalties, which was increased by his continued presence into the industry after the turn of the millennium.

Across his career, the 57-year-old was featured on several songs with different artists, including the Rolling Stones, Len, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Beastie Boys.

He opened for Chris Rock's tour in 2008 and took part in the 2013 "Yo Gabba Gabba" tour.

Biz Markie’s real name was Marcel Theo Hall.

He adopted his alias name after he stepped onto the scene in 1985, at age fourteen, as the beat box backup for Roxanne Shanté of the “Juice Crew.”

“Biz” was the the name his mother used to call him because he was such a busybody and “Markie,” short for Marcel, was his neighborhood nickname.

Tara is tagged in several of Biz’s pictures as @taradise_25, where she posts pictures of herself, friends, and her daughter Averi.

Biz Markie, famed rapper, dead at 57 16 July, 2021 - 07:44pm

Biz Markie, the famous rapper best known for his hit song “Just a Friend,” has passed away.

TMZ reports Markie died after a series of complications from diabetes.

A representative for Markie announced his passing, noting his wife Tara was by his side, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The report said Markie “had been suffering from ill health for some time and was hospitalized last year due to complications with Type 2 diabetes” and had reportedly suffered a stroke earlier in 2021.

Born Marcel Theo Hall, the New York native debuted with the album “Goin’ Off” in 1988, earning fame thanks to the lead single “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz.” His next album, “The Biz Never Sleeps,” featured the track “Just a Friend,” his most successful song to date, hitting the top 10 of the Billboard charts.

Other popular singles included “Vapors,” “What Comes Around Goes Around,” “Let Me Turn You On” and “Young Girl Bluez.”

He quickly earned respect and recognition in the hip hop genre, frequently collaborating with other famous rappers like the Beastie Boys, Cannibis, Slick Rick and others.

Called “Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” Markie would also appear on various television show and movies and toured with famous artists like Chris Rock and others, including one 2015 stop at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, as part of the Old School Summer Fest with SWV, Tony Toni Tone and Big Daddy Kane.

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Biz Markie Passes Away At 57

Essence 16 July, 2021 - 07:33pm

TMZ confirmed the hip-hop pioneer’s death on July 16 after false rumors of his passing swirled across social media just days prior. Hall reportedly suffered brain damage due to complications from diabetes and spent his final days in hospice care surrounded by family and close friends. 

Most notable for his enduring Top-40 international hit “Just a Friend,” Hall brought his own brand of lightheartedness to the rap scene when it was still in its infancy. In a sea of brash bars detailing the exploits of gangsters and dealers, the “Clown Prince of Rap” delivered memorable humorous lines about everything from discovering a cheating partner to writing rhymes from the comfort of the commode.

Circumventing the severity and hardcore posturing of the genre, he laid the foundation of comedic lyricism over hardcore beats and paved the way for the rise of the “meme rap” subgenre decades later. Hall’s notoriety spanned four decades and multiple generations of hip-hop fans, from his jaunts as a rapper, beatboxer, DJ, and stage performer in the 80’s and early 90’s, to his TV, film, and video game appearances in the 2000’s and 2010’s.

In addition to releasing 5 studio albums, he had recurring appearances in shows like Nick Cannon Presents: Wild n’ Out and Yo Gabba Gabba!, toured the country with the Yo Gabba Gabba! live show and comedian Chris Rock, had his legendary tracks featured on video games “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” and “Saints Row IV,” and made a cameo appearance in Men in Black II among others, solidifying himself as a fixture in pop culture. The multiple-Emmy nominated series Ted Lasso references the greatness of the Biz in its first season.

Most recently, Hall entered the radio broadcasting space, hosting a classic hip-hop program on Sirius XM Channel 43, LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells Radio. Starting February 2020, he graced the airwaves weekdays from 1 pm to 4 pm EST, sharing personal anecdotes from the golden age of hip-hop, giving his own input on the modern era, and spinning genre classics.

Hall’s time at the station was unfortunately cut short when he was hospitalized in April 2020 due to complications from his Type 2 diabetes. The rapper was no longer seen or heard from in the public eye beyond that point, and his family remained silent about his condition. However, reports given in December 2020 from sources close to the rapper indicated that he had slipped into a temporary diabetic coma and suffered a stroke during that time, sustaining lasting brain injuries that required him to remain under consistent medical care.

Outside of his entertainment persona, Hall was an extremely private individual and kept intimate details of his personal life away from the media. He is survived by his wife of ten years, Tara Davis, and leaves behind a legacy of innovation, blending music and humor in a way it had never been done before.

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