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Remembering Biz Markie With 3 Of His Greatest Moments

Biz left his mark on hip hop.

On July 16, Biz Markie’s passing was a hit to the entire hip hop community. 

Born Marcel Theo Hall, the New York and Maryland resident could beat-box, dj, produce and rock the mic — a complete emcee.

RELATED: Biz Markie’s Life To Be Celebrated Monday In New York City

While largely known for his mega-smash 1989 hit “Just A Friend”, the rapper’s impact on the hip hop community went far beyond that one single. 

With the BET Hip Hop Awards 2021 coming, where legends both here and who’ve ascended are honored, here’s a look at some of Biz’s greatest hip hop moments. 

  1. RAN HIS SMASH HIT, ‘JUST A FRIEND’, BY Q-TIP

    It’s safe to say “Just A Friend” was Biz Markie’s biggest song without fear of extrapolation.

    A certified platinum track with over 70 million views on Youtube and a constant on most greatest hip hop songs of all-time lists, it was a once-in-a-generation song, for sure. 

    What people don’t know, however, is that Biz ran the song by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip for his approval before it was released. 

    Q wasn’t so sure about the lyrics to Biz's chorus, telling him "you, you must be on speed," upon first listen. But when Biz later sang the lyrics to Freddie Scott's original, Q-Tip gave his nod of approval.

  2. SET THE PRECEDENT FOR CLEARING SAMPLES

    Sampling is a production technique in hip hop that has caused both great joy and unbearable headaches. 

    We love it when J.Dilla, Q-Tip, Alchemist, and others go deep diving in vinyl crates to repurpose timeless work from various genres. But at the same time, there are intellectual property laws that make that tough. 

    Well, it wasn’t so tough until Biz Markie’s legal case in 1991 against Gilbert O'Sullivan, who sued the rapper for sampling his 1972 hit, "Alone Again (Naturally)" on his song 1991 "Alone Again,” which premiered on his album I Need a Haircut

    Up until that point, legal rules were a gray area. But after the judge found Markie guilty of infringing on O'Sullivan's copyright, ordering him to pay $250,000 in damages, a new precedent was set, forcing labels to allocate extra resources to sourcing, producers to mask their lifts, and creating the current state we're in today. 

  3. IS THE ORIGINAL FUNNY MAN OF HIP HOP

    The silliness and freedom we love to see in Missy Elliott and Ludacris’ music videos, all link back to the ‘Clown Prince of Hip Hop’, Biz Markie

    Biz came up in an era that was all about being hard and gangsta. Despite that, he’d rock the Mozart-style powdered wig in his song’s music video, would smile ear-to-ear in a room full of snarls, and wrote self-deprecating songs about missing out on love.

  4. So today when you see the likes of Tyler, The Creator, and Kanye going to depths, breaking the barrier of what’s different, remember Biz did it first.

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