Biz Markie, who has died aged 57 after affected by diabetes, earned himself the nickname of “Clown Prince of Rap” for the way in which he most popular humour and tunefulness to the weapons and gangs scattered by means of the lyrics of extra menacing, gangsta-style rappers. He was a fan of the comedians Benny Hill and Richard Pryor, and admitted that “I’d somewhat have a smile than to be severe.” His largest hit, Only a Pal (1989), was a rueful story of his efforts to influence a woman that “you’ve bought what I want!”, solely to seek out his progress blocked by one other man she claimed was “only a good friend”.
Over a rolling beat accompanied by clonking piano, the story was advised with tongue-in-cheek histrionics by Markie, who hammed it up energetically on the wailing refrain, and it reached No 9 on the Billboard pop chart. “I knew if I blended the drums from Lee Dorsey’s Get Out of My Life, Girl with Freddie Scott’s You Acquired What I Want, I’d go platinum,” he mentioned. The tune was boosted by a video that includes Markie’s slapstick impersonation of Mozart, pounding a keyboard whereas wearing a cape, ruffled shirt and periwig. Markie insisted that “the tune is all true. A woman in California. She dissed me, handled me like a pair of soiled drawers.”
One other of Markie’s claims to fame was to have been on the centre of an occasion that dealt a physique blow to hip-hop. His third album, I Want a Haircut (1991), offered slowly on launch, however hit the buffers catastrophically when Gilbert O’Sullivan launched a lawsuit towards Markie for utilizing an unauthorised 20-second pattern from his 1972 hit Alone Once more (Naturally) on the observe Alone Once more. O’Sullivan’s go well with was upheld within the landmark authorized ruling Grand Upright Music Ltd v Warner Bros Data Inc, and Markie was ordered to pay $250,000 in damages. The choice despatched a seismic shock by means of the hip-hop world and past, since henceforth all samples must be legally cleared with the unique artists, and duly paid for. Warner Bros withdrew I Want a Haircut from sale.
Markie’s fourth album was entitled All Samples Cleared! (1993), and the duvet depicted a re-enactment of the courtroom scene, with Markie enjoying each choose and defendant, however none of this was sufficient to make it successful.
One among six siblings, he was born Marcel Theo Corridor in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and grew up in Patchogue in Lengthy Island. At Longwood highschool in Suffolk County he earned a repute as a prankster. He adopted the alias Biz Markie when he was 14, and described the way it was derived from “the primary hip-hop tape I heard. It was ’77, ’78, from the L Brothers.” One of many rappers on the tape was Busy Bee Starski, and the identify appealed to him. “My identify was Bizzy B Markie, and after some time I put the Biz with the Markie. My nickname in my neighbourhood was Markie.” He developed a present for rhyming and beatboxing, his work displaying the wit and playfulness that might turn out to be his trademark.
He gained a toehold within the music enterprise by beatboxing for Roxanne Shante, of the Juice Crew collective, and labored his approach up by means of enjoying Lengthy Island home events and participating in rap battles, then working as a DJ in nightclubs in New York Metropolis. As phrase unfold about his expertise, he discovered himself in demand at golf equipment in Washington, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Markie approached the producer Marly Marl (actual identify Marlon Williams), a founding father of the Juice Crew, to make some demo tapes, and Marl helmed his 1985 single Def Recent Crew, which featured Shante. He signed to Prism Data and launched singles together with Simply Rhymin’ with Biz, on which he duetted with Massive Daddy Kane.
In 1988 he recorded his debut album, Goin’ Off, for Chilly Chillin’ Data (Prism’s new identify, now with distribution by Warner Bros). It was produced by Marl, and featured lyrics by Kane on 5 tracks, together with the only Pickin’ Boogers. This started with a warning: “Now this will likely sound disgusting an’ like very gross.” A standout observe was Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz, a showcase for his beatboxing expertise. The hip-hop guidebook Deliver the Noise (1991) praised his means to “thud like a kick drum or chatter like a hambone”.
His second album, The Biz By no means Sleeps (1989, which billed Markie as “The Diabolical Biz Markie”), contained Only a Pal. Nonetheless, within the wake of the copyright lawsuit, Markie’s profession headed off in a brand new course, as he targeted on DJing somewhat than recording. He had an performing function within the movie Meteor Man (1993), appeared on the TV present In Dwelling Coloration and shot a freestyle rap industrial for MTV2. He popped up as a visitor artist on the Beastie Boys albums Verify Your Head, In poor health Communication and Howdy Nasty.
In 1996 he appeared alongside Wu-Tang Clan, Coolio and others on the album America Is Dying Slowly, which aimed to spice up Aids consciousness amongst African-American males. In 1997, a pattern of his observe A One Two was used on the Rolling Stones tune Anyone Seen My Child? from their album Bridges to Babylon (making it the one Stones tune to make use of sampling).
Markie appeared within the movies Males in Black II (2002, enjoying a beatboxing alien) and Sharknado II (2014), and in quite a few TV exhibits. In 2005 he took half in VH1’s Superstar Match Membership, a weight-loss competitors wherein Markie shed extra kilos than some other contestant. He filmed commercials for Radio Shack, Heineken, Budweiser and plenty of extra.
It was not till 2003 that he launched a brand new album, the ramshackle and intermittently lovable Weekend Warrior. “I don’t need to seem like a 50-year-old rapper making an attempt too arduous,” he mentioned. “If I’m going to do a report I’m going to do it as a result of I need to do a report.”
Markie fortunately acknowledged his admiration for mainstream singers like Elton John or Barry Manilow – “I’m simply right here to entertain and make individuals completely satisfied,” he mentioned – and he appeared again fondly to the close-knit underground New York scene, the so-called “old skool” from which he emerged. He had appeared with lots of his New York compatriots together with Shante, LL Cool J and Run-DMC within the documentary movie Massive Enjoyable within the Massive City (1986), made for Dutch TV and now thought of a cult basic. In 2016 he joined different veterans together with A Flock of Seagulls and Tiffany on an 80s cruise across the Caribbean.
Markie suffered from persistent weight issues, at one stage weighing 175kg (27st 7lb). “I’d eat, eat, eat, not train, fall asleep, eat and eat,” he mentioned. In 2020 he was hospitalised after struggling issues of Sort 2 diabetes. On the finish of the 12 months he was reportedly in a rehab facility, having suffered a stroke after going right into a diabetic coma, and he died in hospital of issues.
He’s survived by his spouse, Tara (nee Davis), whom he married in 2005.