Biz Markie

Biz Markie's combination of hip-hop swagger and humorous songwriting made him a star during the late 1980s, when the song "Just a Friend" became a platinum-selling crossover hit. He was born in Harlem, New York, on April 8, 1964, and discovered hip-hop as a young teenager. Goin' Off, his 1988 debut, was a surprise hit that charted at Number 19 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, while 1989's The Biz Never Sleeps peaked at Number 9. "Just a Friend," the latter record's biggest single, found an audience not only amongst rap fans, but pop fans, as well, making Biz Markie one of the genre's earliest crossover stars. The song became a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and climbed to Number 5 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart, while its popularity pushed The Biz Never Sleeps to gold status in America. Unfortunately, Biz Markie's time in the spotlight proved to be brief. 1991's I Need a Haircut was marred by a lawsuit generated by the rapper's unauthorized sample of a Gilbert O'Sullivan song, and 1993's All Samples Cleared! failed to crack the Top 40 on the rap charts, despite producing the Top 10 singles "Let Me Turn You On" and "Young Girl Bluez." Biz Markie took an extended hiatus from the music business and made guest appearances on various television shows for a decade before returning with his fifth and final album, Weekend Warrior, in 2003. He remained active for another 17 years, touring with Chris Rock and serving as the DJ on VH1's program Hip Hop Squares before being sidelined by Type 2 diabetes in 2020. He died one year later, on July 16, 2021, at 57 years old.

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