Happy Heavenly Birthday To “The Human Orchestra” Biz Markie! (R.I.P.)
On this day in Hip Hop history, Biz Markie (real name Marcel Theo Hall), one of the most respected and successful DJs in Hip Hop, was born. Growing up in Harlem, New York, The Biz has been moving the crowd with his unique style of rhyming since he was 14. From his earliest gig as Roxanne Shante‘s beat boxer to a headliner at Grammy Awards after parties, he’s done it all. Whether it be on screen, on the mic, or on the 1s and 2s, The Biz has remained a consistent brand in entertainment booking, averaging 175 shows a year across the globe.
Over the past four decades, Biz Markie has established himself as one of the most prolific rappers/DJs in music. Since his 1988 debut Goin’ Off (which peaked at #90 on the Billboard 200), he has grabbed hold of the hearts and ears of Hip Hop lovers everywhere. His second album, 1989’s The Biz Never Sleeps, contains his timeless hit “Just a Friend,” which has made a permanent impact on pop culture.
During the ’90s, The Biz retained his place as an icon. His third LP, I Need A Haircut, unintentionallychanged the scope of Hip Hop forever. The closing track from the album, “Alone Again,” contains a sample of the song “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, which had not been cleared by Warner Bros. Records. In turn, Warner Bros. sued The Biz for his unlawful use of the sample, causing the courts to rule all samples must be cleared by the owning party before reuse from then on. The lawsuit prompted the title of Markie’s fourth LP All Samples Cleared!.
As the new millennium approached, Markie never saw much of a decline in popularity. In 2002, he made his first major motion picture appearance in Men in Black 2. From then, he continued to make a plethora of television and big screen appearances. From Nick Cannon’s Wild N Out to Grand Theft Auto, The Biz is seen and heard throughout visual media.
During this decade, he also started his endeavors as a child educator through the children’s program Yo Gabba Gabba. Through entertainment, Markie has helped educate young children on music and artistic expression on the Nick Jr. hit show.
Biz lost his battle with diabetes in the summer of 202. He was 57 years old. Even though he is gone physically, the music and legacy of the human orchestra will live on forever!