Per Matt
Two words that absolutely describe the musical/lyrical style of Biz Markie would be “outrageous” and “fun,” and quite often, it’s outrageously fun. Whether he was beatboxing, rapping, DJing or making appearances in big Hollywood productions, the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop always seemed to make it look so easy. There will never be another performer quite like Marcel Hall, and Writer-Director Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues), who’s made a name for himself within the musician-based documentary field, does a great job defining the man’s life with All Up in the Biz.

Growing up in Long Island during the ’60s wasn’t easy for Biz. At a very young age he lived in a single-parent home, which eventually led to some drama with his dad — something that he chose not to discuss in his later years. Whatever happened, he basically became homeless in Long Island, living in a tent under a bridge, which eventually led to foster care. After graduating high school, he lived as a nomad as the nascent New York hip-hop scene emerged all around him.

Having dreamt of becoming a rapper like so many around him, there was just one problem: He didn’t quite fit the mold of what a MC looked like. Not letting this get him down, he was a freestyle innovator, developing his own kind of beatboxing, often pairing humor with his music. It was his never-ending passion for the music (and connections to just about every single rap group, imaginable), which led to him joining a super group.

“Biz was a part of the Juice Crew, and the Juice Crew was pretty much everything… it was ultimately Wu-Tang before Wu-Tang.”

With an addictive personality, Biz helped start the careers of many neighborhood kids in the rap game, eventually getting his own record deal, growing his fun-loving musical presence. He was like a real-life cartoon character, but “Just a Friend” turned the rapper into a world-wide pop star. Legal troubles would later derail his rap career, but once he was outta the biz, he transitioned nicely into a corporate DJ, while appearing in MTV and Nickelodeon shows, along with feature films.

“Biz was the DJ of all DJs…”

Biz didn’t drink or smoke, but he collected toys and memorabilia, which kind of explains why kids (and kids of all ages) were drawn to him. This also explains the puppet reenactments throughout the documentary.

By the time Celebrity Fit Club called, Biz had some weight issues. He may have “won” that competition, but a series of diabetic strokes and a blood clot in his right arm would leave him hospitalized for an entire year during COVID, later passing away on July 16th, 2021.

Biz Markie was an all-around entertainer. Sadly, he didn’t have an incredibly long solo career within the music industry. I was a little surprised his fun style wasn’t documented while appearing in other musicians’ songs, most notably with Beastie Boys, which is also where he appeared within my personal timeline.

The energy provided by Biz in the archive footage and home videos is infectious, making me sad I never saw the man perform live. The music by Prince Paul provides an emotional backdrop and the numerous images of him hanging with so many soon-to-be-famous performers leave me wanting to know their behind-the-scenes stories (like the ones with Flavor Flav). I mean, where would Big Daddy Kane and all the others be without Biz? He believed in them all and gave them a chance to perform with his group, which led to bigger and better things for them all.

And the appearance of Pete Nice showing off memorabilia of Biz inside the Universal Hip Hop Museum gave me hope that MC Serch might also make a surprise appearance. Unfortunately, that’s one 3rd Bass reunion I may never see…

Whether he’s the first-ever humorous rapper is definitely up for debate, but there’s no debating that Biz was great. Doug E. Fresh, Fat Joe, Nick Cannon, Darryl McDaniels and even Tracy Morgan give props to the Biz, as the man’s underdog tale is told.

Quite a few elements of the musician’s career pop up that I didn’t know about, along with just about every cover of “Just a Friend” that I’d never heard before. As a Child of the ’80s, I was saddened to hear about the death of Biz Markie, but I really did enjoy watching this film. Having previously seen Black and Blues, I guess it’s about time for me to finally see Of Mics and Men. I was already a fan of Sacha Jenkins, and now that the filmmaker has gotten All Up in the Biz, that admiration has only grown.