Q&A: Biz Markie, The OG Clown Prince Of Hip-Hop



SharnitaBY SHARNITA MIDGETT Straight outta Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, Biz Markie, born Marcel Hall, went on to become the Clown Prince of Hip Hop during rap’s golden age in the 1980s. He had hits like “Just a Friend” and “Make the Music with Your Mouth Biz” and acted alongside Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men and Black II. On Friday, Biz Markie will be setting the Wayback Machine for the last two decades of the 20th Century when he hosts The Decades Collide: 80s vs. 90s show at the TLA. That’s right, hip-hop has been around long enough to have an oldies circuit. Last week we caught up with Biz Markie and discussed his old head status, acting alongside Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and his thoughts on the Hip Hop industry today.

PHAWKER: This year marks the 30th anniversary of your first records, “Make the Music with Your Mouth” and “The Biz Dance.” How did you get into performing and beatboxing?

BIZ MARKIE: I started in ’84 with my little sister, Shante, and then after that ’86 was when I made “Make the Music” and the “Biz Dance.”

PHAWKER: What inspired “Just a Friend”?

BIZ MARKIE: Well that really happened to me with a girl I used to date, so instead of me cursing in her face, GV_TLA116_BizMarkie_WG-600x800I put the pain on the pen, on the paper. It came out hot.

PHAWKER: You’ve earned the title “The Clown Prince of Hip Hop.” What does that title mean to you?

BIZ MARKIE: It means that I’m crazy. I’m deranged. It means that I do a lot of stuff funny. Most of my stuff is mostly humorous, no seriousness.

PHAWKER: So as well as being in music, you have done some acting roles. How did acting in Men in Black II and working with Yo Gabba Gabba come about?

BIZ MARKIE: Well I was a DJ. I took Jazzy Jeff’s place as a DJ for Will Smith because Jeff was doing Jill Scott and Musiq’s album, so that’s how the Men in Black II came about. And with “Yo Gabba Gabba” I was supposed to just do the “Dancey Dance,” and I was lazy and I made up the “Beat of the Day,” and we all created — me, Christian and Scott — created, Yo Gabba Gabba together and the rest is history.

PHAWKER: How is the hip-hop industry changed since you started out 30 years ago?

BIZ MARKIE: I think that the difference between then and now is it’s more corporate. It’s not more cultured. It should be more cultured.