We lost Biz Markie this week. The guy loved music. I mean, he LOVED music. He was an encyclopedia of genres, styles, and techniques.
Most are going to remember him for the goofiness and antics, and that’s fine, but behind the silliness was an extraordinarily talented artist and performer.
I saw him a number of times doing DJ sets in the early 2000s. The coolest thing was how he’d read the room. I saw him do old school hip-hop sets (what you would have expected), but also classic pop medleys, all while moving across generations with a sublime understanding of the connective parts.
We joked for years about how in one set he excused himself for being hungry and proceeded to chow down on what can only be described as a massive sub (aka hoagie, aka grinder). Just when we were wondering what was actually going on, he lifted his shirt, dropped the edge of his gut on the turntable, and with sandwich still in hand (and mouth), he started scratching a record -all at the same time. The crowd lost their minds.
That’s a performer.
We laughed about “the gut scratch” for-ev-er. Anytime we’d be watching a DJ we’d say, “yeah, but can he scratch with his gut like Biz?!” And we’d roll laughing at the memory.
Now, going through his back catalog isn’t like remembering the Beatles, but spend some time with some of these links below and focus on his awareness and technique. He took the skills he learned on street corners, clubs, and early records from his youth and kept building on them.
Biz could make you laugh. Biz could make you singalong. Biz could get you out on the dance floor. He did all those things for me. Thanks Biz.
First, the obligatory anthem:
Check out this Rap City interview from 1992. Watch the techniques he’s demonstrating closely, this is so cool.
Here’s him showing off how to work a room and his love for pop music:
Another iconic hit from my middle school dance days and beyond. I still feel like getting wild when I hear that bari sax. “Let Me Clear My Throat.”
And the less popular but wonderfully groove-heavy, “Friends.”