Markie rose to fame with “Just a Friend”, made us sing along, tap our feet, and laugh with his cheerful spirit, and suddenly left us teary-eyed on July 16, 2021. Biz Markie was the indisputable, unmistakable, and incontestable rapper, beatboxer, singer, and songwriter. Apart from all these things, he was also a DJ and record producer. An international music icon, he carved a niche for himself in the music industry with his unconventional and innovative numbers dipped in off-the-wall creativity. His music was a blend of melodies, fun, and humor wrapped in hard-hitting meaning. His eccentricity made him a popular name in the circuit. He was known as the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop” and he indeed was.Markie became a household name in many countries after the release of his 1989 single “Just a Friend”. The number entered the list of top 40 hits in multiple countries, and in 2008, it achieved another milestone by making it to the VH1’s 100 greatest hip hop songs list. This single made him a sensation worldwide and the world, today, fondly remembers him as a legend behind “Just a Friend”.
His early life
Marcel Theo Hall was born on April 8 in 1964, in Manhattan in the Harlem neighborhood. Raised in Long Island, he commenced his musical journey in the nightclubs of New York City. At the beginning of his career, he gave several performances at colleges in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington DC, which worked as a launchpad and gave him regional recognition. Later, he went on to become one of the most celebrated names in the music, television, and film industry. He adopted the name Biz Markie, which beautifully depicts the various aspects and influences of his life. He derived Biz from the first hip-hop he heard and B from his love for Busy Bee. Markie was his nickname in his neighborhood. He later changed his name from Bizzy B Markie to Biz Markie.
How the star rose to fame: His Career
His first album was “Goin’ Off”, which was released in 1988. The lead single of the album “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz” became an instant hit among the crowd. The underground singles featured in the album also struck the right chord with the audience. This album paved his way to success. In the following year, on October 10, 1989, his second album, “The Biz Never Sleeps”, hit the market. His single “Just a Friend” became a rage. The song beautifully blended his singing and rap to narrate his ordeal with a woman. The song hit the 9th spot on the Billboard Charts. Later, it gained entry into VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders list in 2000, where it got the 81st spot, and in 2008, into VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. This single added a new height to Biz’s career.
In 1991, Markie released his third studio album- “I Need a Haircut”. An air of controversy wrapped this album as Gilbert O’Sullivan, a popular Irish singer-songwriter, claimed that “Alone Again” from Markie’s album included a sample from his song “Alone Again (Naturally). This lawsuit affected Markie’s career, and his next album, “All Samples Cleared!” (which was his response to the lawsuit) failed to recreate the magic that his former albums had created. During this time, Markie made several television appearances in various game shows, commercials, TV series, and movies. He also collaborated with several popular artists, such as Beastie Boys on Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty, and Sounds of Science, Don Byron’s Nu Blaxploitation, Canibus’ Office Space soundtrack, and Slick Rick for Will Smith’s Willennium. In 1996, he collaborated with Red Hot Organization for a compilation CD named “America Is Dying Slowly” to raise awareness for AIDS. The song featured various artists, including Fat Joe, Coolio, Wu-Tang Clan, and others. A sample of his recording found a place in “Anybody Seen My Baby”, a Rolling Stones’ song from Bridges to Babylon. He also joined forces with Frankie Cutlass for “The Cypher Part 3”, his third single. In 2002, he appeared in Men in Black II. In 2003, his fifth and final album- “Weekend Warriors” was released. For a few more years, he went on collaborating and making appearances with others of his like, featuring on TV shows and commercials, performing on tours, and more. All in all, he kept working and performing as a rapper, beatboxer, singer, actor, DJ, and producer. He kept us all entertained with his creativity, brilliance, and humor.
His last days
Markie had Type 2 diabetes, which was diagnosed in his late 40s, and was hospitalized due to complications in April 2020. He suffered a stroke after slipping into a diabetic coma and stayed in a rehabilitation facility, as reported in December 2020. On July 1, 2021, the rumors of his death surfaced that were declared untrue. On July 16, at the age of 57, he left for heavenly abode while receiving healthcare at a Baltimore hospital. During his last few days, he was surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by his beautiful wife Tara Davis, his close circle of family and friends, and millions and millions of fans scattered in every corner of the world. He may have left us all, but his voice, raps, banters, goofiness, and laughter still waft in the air.
Not ‘Just A Friend’
Biz Markie was a legend. He worked in and out for 35 years in the industry and has left behind a great legacy. We might have to wait for quite a few years to meet him at the other end of the world and to be able to listen to his eccentric music and the charming laughter, but it will be worth it. For now, we can celebrate him and his way of life, this is why we have created Biz Markie commemorative t-shirts as a symbol of our remembrance.
Biz Markie Tribute T-shirts
If you are a true Biz Markie fan, wear and show your lasting love for his music, struggle, and character with a t-shirt made in all his glorious memory. Order yours if you want to keep him closer to you, just like a “precious” friend. Keep reading to see our essays on other famous celebrities particularly in hip-hop with this article on KRS-One.