For the universe
An interview with Biz Markie ahead of his Guthrie Green performance
Biz Markie, pioneer of hip-hop and beatboxing, will perform April 7 at Guthrie Green with Big Daddy Kane and Doug E. Fresh as part of Hip Hop 918. His debut album, Goin’ Off, released in 1988, showcased his beatboxing skills with the hit single “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz.” The album also featured fan favorites such as “Nobody Beats The Biz” and “Vapors.” In 1989, Biz Markie reached a new high with his most successful single to date, “Just a Friend,” a hilariously relatable anti-love song that made off-key belting of songs about your failed romantic endeavors cool. He since has toured with the Beastie Boys and been featured on their albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty. He has cameoed in such films as “Men in Black II” and “The Wackness” and has starred in children’s television show “Yo Gabba Gabba!” We spoke by phone.
Mary Noble: You said in in an interview once, “Me and Doug E., we’re the ones that made up the beatbox. He’s number one; I’m number two.” Could you explain that dynamic to me?
Biz Markie: Me and Doug E., we boys, we like Felix and Oscar (“The Odd Couple”). When I met him he was doing the beatbox and I was doing the beatbox; that’s why we both sound different, because neither one of us copied each other. And we got to be tight.
Noble: You were the first one to rhyme and beatbox, correct?
Biz Markie: Oh, yes.
Noble: Will the two of you be beatboxing together in Tulsa?
Biz Markie: We might do somethin’. I might jump onstage with him.
Noble: I love reading about your relationship with the Beastie Boys. What are some songs you sang with them?
Biz Markie: We did so many records that we rocked together. We did “The Joker” with the Steve Miller Band, we did “Bennie and the Jets.”
Noble: Were you touring with them when you jumped onstage and sang “Bennie”?
Biz Markie: Yeah, I was on tour with them. I [was] like the Billy Preston of The Beatles when it came to the Beastie Boys.
Noble: Are you all still in contact?
Biz Markie: We don’t talk as much as we used to, but we still talk whenever we can. Everybody got lives, so it ain’t like we beefin’, but we talk whenever see each other. Rest in peace to Yauch. I’m always one of them who just shows up. You can always count on me.
Noble: You’re well known for your hilarious and fun-loving persona; was it a natural move to work on videos for kids?
Biz Markie: Yeah … my thing was I didn’t like what was on TV for kids, so I said, “I want to do something for kids”—so they can have a different imagination, not a negative imagination.
Noble: When I heard you on The Avalanches’ Wildflower album it reminded me of your kid videos—did you have that in mind when writing for “The Noisy Eater”?
Biz Markie: Oh, yeah, everything is universal. I don’t make songs for adults. I just make records for the universe.
Noble: That song sounds like a combination of one from the golden age of hip-hop and one for children.
Biz Markie: Yeah, The Avalanches was dope.
Noble: Are you still teaching cooking classes?
Biz Markie: I haven’t had time to do it, but when I get some time, I’m going to do it again. I was teaching cooking classes and teaching people how to DJ. I promote health; you don’t have wealth without health.
Noble: Are you still DJing frequently? A lot of people couldn’t believe you went from “Just a Friend” to DJing, but you’ve been successful with it.
Biz Markie: Yeah, I DJ more than I perform. I love to DJ. [In] anything you do, you got God behind you and you got your own confidence, you can accomplish anything.