On this day in Hip Hop history, Biz Markie (real name Marcel Theo Hall), one of the most respected and successful artists/DJs in Hip Hop, was born. Born in Harlem and growing up in Long Island, The Biz has been moving the crowd with his unique rhyming style since he was 14. From his earliest gig as Roxanne Shante’s beatboxer to a headliner at Grammy Awards after-parties, he’s done it all. Whether on screen, on the mic, or 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 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 permanently impacts pop culture.
During the ’90s, The Biz reached his apex as an icon. His third LP, I Need A Haircut, unintentionally changed 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 Warner Bros. Records had not cleared. In turn, Warner Bros. sued The Biz for his unlawful sample use, causing the courts to rule that the owning party must clear all samples before reusing. The lawsuit prompted the title of Markie’s fourth LP, All Samples Cleared!. After this incident, sample clearing was one of the main hurdles to jump as a recording artist in this genre.
As the new millennium approached, Markie never saw much decline in popularity. In 2002, he made his first major motion picture appearance in Men in Black 2. 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.
On July 16, 2021, Biz Markie passed away reportedly from complications of diabetes. H was 57 years old. No one has had a career in the Hip Hop game quite like “the human orchestra” Biz Markie, and his impact on the game will never be forgotten. Especially on his birthday!