Biz Markie is hip-hop’s most brilliant buffoon. An adept beatboxer, endearingly entertaining rapper, and deliberately awful singer, Biz coined classics during hip-hop’s late-’80s golden era and rolled with Marley Marl’s almighty Juice Crew. Then he pulled his biggest prank: sampling and getting sued by Gilbert O’Sullivan for illegal use of the song “Alone Again (Naturally),” and therein scuppering many a creative thought about sampling someone else’s music without applying (and paying) for permission.
In honor of Biz’s appearance at the Brooklyn Bowl tonight—where he’ll be spinning records from his vast vinyl crates—here are ten clips starring the man and his antics.
10. “Bennie And The Jets”
One of the grandest ever examples of rappers singing badly), here Biz covers Elton John (an early version featured the Beastie Boys on backup duty). Crucially, Biz’s live rendition includes the bits where he clearly does not know the lyrics to the song.
Featuring the whole darn family—and a woman in a bikini playing a saxophone on a speedboat—Biz’s tale of duplicitous types who only want to hang around when your stock is sky-rocketing is a fine excuse for cohorts TJ Swann and Big Daddy Kane to dress up in slick suits and lounge around on a yacht. This was common practice in the ’80s.
8. “Turn Tha Party Out”
Saturday morning-style animation illustrates Biz’s 2001 sort-of tribute to tracking down the ultimate breakbeat. As Biz rifles through a crate of records, the video throws up some decent puns on hip-hop groups (The Bratty Boys; Big Daddy Fade), not to mention rap’s second-best-worst Austin Powers impression after Jigga’s “Oh, behave.”
7. “Michael Jackson Tribute”
As the title cryptically hints, this is live footage of Biz beat-boxing a short tribute to the deceased King of Pop. Apparently, the Michael Jackson segment is now a staple in Biz’s live shows. (Expect him to drop “Somebody’s Watching Me” on Thursday.)
6. “Def Fresh Crew”
Cats! No, seriously, 1986’s “Def Fresh Crew” may have helped announce Roxanne Shante as one of rap’s all-time great female rappers, but it also includes the very important declaration, “Talk to the girls, you know they are wack/ Tell those crabs they sound like cats.” Cue Biz making cat noises. This happens. (Note: Live video footage contains abridged lyrics.)
5. “Just Rhymin’ With Biz”
In which Biz’s animated antics come together with Big Daddy Kane’s pimp attire and fedora hat, with the former employing a voice tagged “drunken frog with a particularly sore throat” to spark a live performance of Kane’s “Just Rhymin’ With Biz.” Kane then raps his veteran ass off with much precision.
4. “Me And The Biz”
A ripe rap ruse from Biz’s fellow Juice Crew member Master Ace, here he performs an impression of Biz’s voice while the video introduces the much-loved Biz Markie puppet. It’s a rap artifact that went on to greater notoriety after the wags at Ego Trip published a book containing a spread of the puppet posing with a slew of artists. (Please update this trend with a blow-up Nicki Minaj doll.)
3. “Toilet Stool Rap”
So nasty they banned it from MTV! No, really, this actually happened back in the early ’90s, with Biz forced to release a statement saying that the poop-themed song simply deals with “a natural part of everyone’s life.” Cat watch: Biz enjoys his time on the bathroom’s throne as it provides him with refuge from being pestered by felines (and dogs).
2. “Spring Again”
Biz hits the links! Dressed up in full golfing attire—and with DJ Cool V clad in a red sequined suit and bow-tie—Biz heralds in the spring season by enjoying a round of golf before, er, changing into a pirate’s outfit. Important Nutritional Information: Biz used to go to Coney Island and eat a lot of cotton candy “because back then it was, like, fine and dandy.”
1. “Just A Friend”
An all-time bittersweet hip-hop love song, Biz likes a girl—”from the U.S. nation,” no less—but, alas, said lady wishes to remain only friends. At which point Biz reacts how any well-balanced person would: He dons a Beethoven wig and sings off-key.
Biz Markie spins at Brooklyn Bowl tonight.