Biz Markie, the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop Dead at 57

Biz Markie, the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” best known for his 1989 global smash “Just a Friend, has died, and news of his death has infected millions of his fans throughout the world with the “Just a Friend” earworm.

Biz started his career in show biz as a human beat box, and his 1988 debut album which highlighted his beatboxing skills achieved nominal success peaking at No. 90 on the Billboard 200.

The following year Biz achieved superstardom with his monster album which featured “Just a Friend. The playful, silly song sampled the hell out of Freddie Scott’s 1968 song “You Got What I Need”

The video was just as wacky as the song, it begins with Biz and his homies exchanging “Your Mama” jokes and it depicts him wearing a Mozart wig and banging the hell out of a piano like a Liberace on crack. The video achieved heavy-rotation on MTV at a time when not many videos of black artists of any genre were played.

Everybody and their mama sang along with the deliberately (?) out-of-tune chorus, and we didn’t even need to be blissed out on weed to sing along.

Markie wasn’t just a one-hit-wonder, he was an inspiration and a role model to all of us who weren’t as cool as the rap stars of the era like Big Daddy Kane (a pal and collaborator of Markie). I didn’t have the nerve to rap along with the hits of Big Daddy Kane, but I had no problem getting my nerd on and singing along with Markie.

The angels in heaven are beatboxing like it’s the 1980s welcoming Biz Markie to sing along with the heavenly choir.

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