Biz Markie

Biz Markie's inclination toward juvenile humor and his fondness for goofy, tuneless, half-sung choruses camouflaged his true talents as a freestyle rhymer. The Biz may not have been able to translate his wild rhyming talents to tape, but what he did record was worthwhile in its own way. With his silly humor and inventive, sample-laden productions, he proved that hip-hop could be funny and melodic, without sacrificing its street credibility. His distinctive style made his second album, The Biz Never Sleeps, a gold hit and its single, "Just a Friend," into a Top Ten pop single. While its success made Markie a semistar, it also cursed him. Not only was he consigned as a novelty act, but it brought enough attention that Gilbert O'Sullivan sued him over the unauthorized sample of "Alone Again (Naturally)" on Biz's 1991 album I Need a Haircut. The lawsuit severely cut into Markie's career, and 1993's All Samples Cleared! was the last record he released during the '90s. However, his reputation was restored somewhat in the mid-'90s as the Beastie Boys championed him and other alternative rap groups showed some debt to his wild, careening music.