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Born Marcel Hall on April 8, 1964 in Harlem, Biz Markie was an innovative and succesful hip-hop artist and rapper whose half sung, comedic style set him apart from the rest of the late '80s hip-hop scene. Markie began his career in New York in the early '80s by performing at local night clubs such as the Funhouse and the Roxy. While doing these gigs, he met producer Marley Marl in 1985. Later that year, Markie released his first demos. By 1988, he had signed with Cold Chillin' records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros Records.

Biz Markie's first album, Goin' Off, was not a commercial success but several of the cuts from it, including "Vapors", "Pickin' Boogers" and "Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz", became underground word of mouth successes and earned Markie respect in the hip-hop community. His second album The Biz Never Sleeps would be his last commercial success, but through no fault of his own. The single form the album, Just a Friend, became a mainstream hit and reached the Top 10 Pop Singles charts in the late '80s and The Biz Never Sleeps went gold. Although the song was popular, it labeled him as a novelty act and in retrospect it caused many to call him a one hit wonder.

Due to the additional attention, when Markie's 1991 album I Need a Haircut was released, GIlbert O'Sullivan sued for the unauthorized use of a sample from his song Alone Again (Naturally). O'Sullivan won the lawsuit and forced Cold Chillin' to pull all copies of I Need a Haircut from store shelves. This ruling was a landmark case for the hip-hop community and redefined the rules regarding who could sample what and how. The album was, of course, a commercial flop. Its followup, All Samples Cleared!, sold poorly due to the injuries his career had suffered due to the lawsuit. All Samples Cleared! has been Biz Markie's last album to date, with the exception of two compilations released in 2000 and 2001.

Although his reputation was seriously marred by the lawsuit against him and the effect which it had on the hip-hop community, during the mid-90s punk rockers turned rappers The Beastie Boys championed him as a major influence and an innovator in the hip-hop community. Biz Markie is still working, providing vocals for several Beastie Boys' releases. He also filmed a commercial featuring himself freestyling for MTV2 in 1996.





see also: Beastie Boys, DJ Polo, Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, Rob Base, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Kid 'N Play, The Fat Boys, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Heavy D & The Boyz

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