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November 10th, 2010 CASEY JARMAN | Music Stories
 

Just A Friend

The Diabolical Biz Markie is back—and the kids love him.

     
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Biz Markie is everywhere. Not just in Radio Shack commercials, viral videos, VH1 and the hippest kids show on TV, Yo Gabba Gabba! (where he hosts “Biz’s Beat of the Day,” a beatboxing tutorial for kids). I mean he’s everywhere in your life. He was your crazy uncle, the kid next to you in high-school detention and the eccentric guy who pours his heart out to get the whole karaoke bar. Biz Markie—born Marcel Hall; a permanent teenager whose mouth always seems agape and prepared to explode in maniacal laughter—is a personality so strong you feel like you know him before he spits a rhyme, beatboxes or spins a record. From his untouchable hip-hop cred (“Picking Boogers” and “Vapors” were cracking up the underground long before “Just a Friend” made it to the suburbs) to a recent past speckled with reality-TV appearances and movie cameos—Biz is always Biz. WW spoke with the legend via telephone.

WW: Did you get in trouble when you were a kid, or were you a good kid?

Biz Markie: I was in between. I just never got caught. In high school—I can say it now, since I’m out of high school—I made a cake. But you remember when Ex-Lax used to come in chocolate? So I put a couple of bars and melted all the chocolate down and made a chocolate cake. And I put it on the principal’s desk, saying it was from the cheerleaders. Everybody had diarrhea all week. I’ve always been a class clown.

Did you know early on that your music would appeal to kids as well as adults?

I always did everything for the kids anyway, mostly. I never really did no adult—I mean, my skills I did for adults; I had to keep my relevance in rap—but all my stuff was for kids and teenagers. None was really provocative and grown-up. My sisters and brothers are doctors, lawyers and cops. So I wanted to have a great job. They didn’t think rap was going to be big.

Why does it take you so long to release albums?

When I put it out I want it to have feeling to it. When Yauch gets better, from the Beastie Boys, we’re gonna do an album together. I’m doing it because we boys. It’s like if you go outside and throw the ball around or you play flag football—no matter how old you are, you’re still gonna get them youthful feelings. It isn’t about the money, it’s about connecting with good times. That’s how my parties be. Whenever I leave this earth, I want people to say, “When Biz was there, we had some fun, yo. He did some bugged-out stuff.”

You’re not going to work with some hot new producer because he can get you back on top?

Nah, I do my own stuff. I know the sound that I want. I don’t want to try to convert to new, I just wanna be me. It ain’t like I’m trying to be Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne is great—I’m not one to talk junk against the new school or nothing like that.

But when you first heard Ol’ Dirty Bastard, did you think, “He’s been listening to my records”?

No, I knew Dirty before [he made] records. I met him in ’83 or ’84...Dirty Bastard has always been like that—it isn’t like he bit anything—he was always crazy. Rest in peace.

Do you consider yourself crazy, too?

No, I just consider myself different. Everybody’s scared of the unknown in the beginning.

Did you know that Yo Gabba Gabba! was going to be big?

I had a feeling, because I looked at the show and it was so different than everything else. It was on blogs in the beginning, and people was killin’ me, like, “Yo, why’s he doing the beatbox like that?” And I’m thinking, “It’s for kids, stupid.” [The live show is] incredible. It’s like popcorn: Everybody likes popcorn.

Speaking of snacks, what’s your weakness?

Everything [laughs maniacally].


SEE IT: Biz Markie performs (mostly a DJ set with some MC’ing) at Branx on Saturday, Nov. 13, with Rev Shines and DJ Gemo. 9 pm. $10. 21+. He also appears with the Yo Gabba Gabba! tour at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 14. 2 and 5 pm. $24.75-$49. All ages.
 
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