Biz Markie

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Biz Markie


You know, you can get on your nostalgia-fuelled high horse all you like and dismiss today’s kids’ programming a crock of shit compared to whatever was beamed down the tubes during your youth. But truth be told, you probably never got to experience anything nearly as awesome as having Biz Markie teaching you how to beat box. Indeed, that’s exactly what this generation of kidlets are privy to every morning when Biz presents his Beat Of The Day in the wildly popular Yo Gabba Gabba! (YouTube the Halloween incarnation for the most brilliant example of the form).

It’s in this context in which Biz pays his first visit to Australian shores, with the hip-hop legend guesting at the various Yo Gabba Gabba! live shows – as well as a handful of sideshows. This newfound role as a children’s entertainer is a natural fit, as the man himself explains. “It’s not strange, ’cause I’ve been doing the beat boxing for kids for all my life,” Biz recalls. “I’m glad that the younger generation is with me right now. I feel good, I feel good.”

With Australia producing the archetype for children’s entertainment in The Wiggles, Biz feels assured that the Yo Gabba Gabba! live experience can hold its own on the giants’ home turf. “Well the show is electric. The show is electric and exciting: incredible,” he boasts. “Oh yeah, we are gonna rock the house.”

After such a storied few decades of extracurricular pursuits, it’s easy to lose focus of Biz’s stellar back catalogue of certified hip-hop classics, most of which we can expect to hear live at his sideshow. “Yeah it’s the first time, so I’ll go through all my records to see which ones are the hits out there – I know there’s gotta’ be one or two out there that are hits”, he laughs.

The Australian psyche readily champions work which embodies that which is deeply humorous with a slightly self-depreciative bent. So it’s rather strange that it has taken so long for Biz to pay us a visit. “One of my favourite comedians is Paul Hogan,” he declares. “But Benny Hill is probably my favourite – I know he ain’t Australian. I just like the way they get down. I like the way they do their thing but, you know. I always try – I always make myself different than anybody else.”

Biz’s passion for music has led to his reputation as one of the most celebrated party DJs in the US, making appearances at more than a few shindigs hosted by big-name stars. This insatiable appetite for music has evolved into a real estate issue. “Well I got one house full of records and one house that I live in. It’s crazy, I lost count back in 2001, of how many records I have,” he recalls. “I’ve got them all in alphabetical order. I know where everything’s at.”

Just A Friend , without a doubt Biz’s most recognisable track and a certified hip-hop classic, still holds up as a sure-fire crowd pleaser – thanks in part to its indelible, catchy chorus. “Because I made the record from the heart,” he offers in regards to the track’s success. “Is it big out in Australia?” he asks. While I couldn’t really account for its original chart position, I assured him it would go down a treat at his show.

After residing in the vanguard of sample-based hip-hop and enduring the resulting legal issues, Biz appears a little jaded went it comes to the current state of the genre. “I’d say it got more corporate. I’d say it got more digital… and the corporate market made it one dimensional,” he offers. “Yeah and another thing is that we got older, so we’re not going to look at the new hip hop like we look at our own.” Even with the prevalence of mixtapes in digital form, Biz remains sceptical. “With those mixtapes, they’re gonna be taken and made more corporate. I can see it.”

Yo Gabba Gabba! aside, Biz has steadily been one of the most sought after personalities in pretty much every single aspect of the entertainment industry, popping up in TV, films, video games – you name it. “It’s because I’m a character and, you know. It’s like Flava Flav – you can’t make us. We are made and after we’re gone there’s no duplicate; there’s no duplicating Busta Rhymes, no duplicating Snoop Dogg. Do you know what I mean? This is it for people like us with unorthodox style.”

Where we can brace ourselves for some pretty wild scenes no matter what context we’re witnessing him in, Biz has a fairly grounded set of goals for his visit. “Maybe being alive after getting off that really long flight,” he laughs. “I want to see how good the food is and just to see how I can take it over there. I want to shake some Australian hands and have fun.”