The funeral for Biz Markie, the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, was held today in his hometown of Patchogue. Markie died on July 16. He was 57.
The service, held at Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, featured emotional music performances and speeches that elicited applause and — true to Markie’s character — laughter.
The Rev. Al Sharpton arrived in the afternoon to deliver the eulogy.
Hip-hop icons paid their respect
Many prominent rappers, friends, influencers and fans of Markie’s, attended the event, including Big Daddy Kane, DJ Cool V, Craig G and Roxanne Shante of the Juice Crew, LL Cool J, Busy Bee, Treach from Naughty by Nature, Fat Joe, Montelll Jordan, Stevie D Lundy from the Force MDs, Ice-T, Grand Daddy I.U. and DJ Diamond J from EPMD.
Markie was a tremendous presence in the industry, and not just because he was 6-foot-3.
“I loved him as a fan first,” Treach said. “Before we even came out as artists, he took us under his wing. Everybody he got in contact with, he made sure that was family.”
DJ Diamond J from EPMD said he would not be the artist he is today without Markie, to whom he became an “annoying adopted little brother” when he met the late rapper in Brentwood at age 10.
“He took a real liking to me and he showed me what hip-hop was and he showed me everything that I needed to do to become entrenched in the culture and do it as a profession,” Diamond J said. “And I’ve been doing it professionally since straight out of high school and I’ve had an amazing career because of him.”
As though to raise spirits among the bereaved, a mural of Markie was prominently featured just beyond the theater lobby. It depicted the rapper seated in a bathroom “Pickin Boogers,” an image that adorns the “Biz’s Baddest Beats” compilation.
Every DJ and MC who shared memories of Markie had a different, favorite funny memory to share.
DJ Cool V remembers an antic Markie did on-stage alongside him and Big Daddy Kane at The Apollo in 1985.
“The funniest thing Biz did rapping was he spelled his name 10 different ways back to back. B-I-Z-Z-Zebe-Zebe-Ze. The crowd loved it.”
Craig G recalled being on the receiving end of a “yo mama” joke during one of their “infamous snap sessions” on a bus.
“He said my mom looks like she standing in front of the liquor store all day,” he said “I know it don’t sound like much of a joke but the whole bus was laughing man. I couldn’t even reply, I was laughing for like 40 minutes.”
“There was no replying to Biz,” the Juice Crew member added. “It would keep going. You’d have to have all day.”
Although many outsiders in the crowd said they were saddened by Markie’s passing, it felt like more of a joyous celebration of his life. Chants of “You Can’t Beat The Biz” erupted from the crowd. One attendee brought a speaker to play many of Markie’s classics, and no one in the crowd refrained from singing when the chorus “Just a Friend” kicked in.
DJ Cool V, who worked with Markie throughout his entire career, said it was special that the celebration of Markie’s life took place in Patchogue “If you listen to his records, all he ever wanted to do was put Long Island on the map.”
Biz Markie: ‘what we call ‘hip-hop”
Markie, who released five full-length albums and forayed into television and film is best known for his Top 40 hit “Just A Friend” and his work on the children’s series “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
Many of his peers, however, say Markie should be best remembered for his perseverance in the face of adversity.
“I want Biz to be remembered as the most incredible dreamer,” DJ Cool V said. “He was the biggest dreamer. He was one of the people that had absolutely no fear about going after what he wanted.
“And he dreamed so big and he made every dream come true.”
Before several of the artists made their way into the theater, they said a lesson everyone can learn from Markie is to be themselves.
“In today’s world, they’d be like, ‘He’d never make it as a rapper. He’s not a sex symbol and all that. He was himself; that’s what he taught you. He never changed. Biz was always the same dude.'”
Busy Bee Starski, one of Markie’s influences from which he derived his rap name, said Markie embodied the very essence of hip-hop.
“He is what we call hip-hop,” Starski said. “He was peace, he was love, he was unity and he was having fun. That is our culture.”
Top: Above photos were taken by Yellow House Images.