The sad news that legendary legacy rapper, beat master and comic actor Biz Markie died at age 57 was not unexpected. For the last several weeks, and after a reported stroke and long struggle with Type II diabetes, the human beat box and genius floacist behind early hip-hop hits such as “Just a Friend” and “Nobody Beats the Biz,” has been on a morbid, unfortunate death watch with his passing signaled on social media several times before Friday night.
Yet, the final word of Markie’s actual death didn’t just shock members of the musical community where Biz was beloved from his talents, humor and humility; it saddened them, signaling an end of an era for hip hop with a gently comic, cartoony twist. With Markie’s passing came a litany of love, respect and fond remembrance.
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“One of my favorite songs @BizMarkie,” said producer and Verzuz co-founder Timbaland of Markie’s slow 1988 classic, “The Vapors,” on Twitter while throwing up its vintage video. “Rest easy king.”
“Biz built me man,” said Questlove on Instagram, remarking at length not only on Markie’s rap skills, but his DJing and record shopping skills and love of “Star Wars.” “In my early early stages it was Biz who taught me the REAL places to cop records….Biz taught me what cities had good digging…..Biz taught me where to collect 45s……Biz taught me where to collect 8TRACK TAPES!!… Biz ‘tried’ to get me into Star Wars action figure collecting.”
“He taught me ALOT. Im using ALL the education he taught me,” Questlove ended the post. “We will miss him. But he will be here forever. Love you Biz.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist and actor Flea jumped on Twitter, saying: “All of my love to the one of a kind bringer of love and joy, the great Biz Markie. I will bang his records til the day I die and my heart will rejoice. I love you Biz.”
One-time Fugee, fellow rapper, “The Chi” composer and world music maker Wyclef Jean reminisced about the first time he ever laid eyes and ears on Biz Markie in performance. “Biz markiie past away at 57 first time I saw was appolo theater I was 18 years he was a true Goat”
Along with posting a funny photo of Biz with his tongue hanging out, P-Funk/James Brown bassist and all around star child Bootsy Collins wrote, “We lost another Rap legend Mr. Biz Markie, an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer. He’s best known for his 1989 single ‘Just a Friend’! To a lot of us he was more than Just a Friend. R.I.P. Prayers going out to the family & friends. Bootsy.”
Actor and comedian David Allen Greer RT-ed Bootsy’s Tweet, adding, “Mannnnnnnnn, I’m so down…feel so sad this evening Biz passed. I try to give these kings n queens that touched me while they were n the flesh a nice send off…let the heavens know great ones are comin n greet’m with respect n honor but it breaks my heart sometimes Damn.”
Legendary rapper and lyricist Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest fame seemed deeply moved by the passing of his old acquaintance, Biz. “This one hurts baad … RIP to my Aries bro… ahhh man @BizMarkie. damn im gonna miss u so so many memories.. hurts bad. My FRIEND.”
Finally, DJ A-Trak posted a long, loving tribute to Biz’s rapping and DJ skills, on Instagram, with a warmly familiar photo of the twosome together, in Montreal, when Trak was but 16 years old.
“Biz Markie changed my life,” A-Trak started. “I fell in love with hip hop around the age of 12. Growing up in Montreal, my big brother @dave1 and I cherished any little bits of information that we could find about this rich, magical culture. If Dave borrowed a cassette from friends at school, we would dub it and listen to it until we knew it inside and out. One of these albums that we both obsessed over was Pete Rock & CL Smooth ‘The Main Ingredient’. One thing about that album was: Pete Rock scratched on Biz Markie samples on practically the whole thing. For a young kid like me who had no context, I just assumed that every DJ had to scratch on Biz Markie records! It was the standard! As I started messing around with DJing and scratching, I figured I needed some Biz albums. So I hounded the local record shop, Chin Phat. I asked them to order a compilation called Biz’s Baddest Beats. I called them every week, for months! You can imagine young Baby Trak, my voice hadn’t changed yet, my French-Canadian accent was heavy… “did you receive Biz’s Baddest Beats?” When it finally came in I was ecstatic. I loved this guy! He had a song called Pickin Boogers! Let Me Turn You On was hilarious too. The storytelling in Vapors was so visual. I didn’t even really comprehend who Marley Marl was, what his impact was; or the role that Kane played. I just knew I loved all these songs, and that Biz was a character. When I won my first world DJ championship, the 1997 DMC, the most recognizable part of my routine was a Nobody Beats The Biz juggle. For the following year’s battle, I thought it would be cool to pick up where I left off so I juggled Biz Is Goin Off. That same year, the Beastie Boys (my favorite group) hired my OG @mixmastermike as their DJ. The Hello Nasty tour was incredible. Their openers were @moneymark, who had my other friend @realkidkoala as his DJ, and the diabolical Biz. A dream lineup. Not only did I go to the Montreal show, I even tagged along with them to Toronto. I was 16. That’s where this photo with Biz is from. He knew that I was using his records to win world championships!”
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