Biz Markie – “Vapors”

Biz Markie? Isn’t he that guy who’s in those music commercials where he wears a low-budget spacesuit and helps people sort their music out automagically?

Yes, he is, but mention that again and I will have to smack you.

Long Island emcee Biz Markie is one of rap’s unsung greats. A member of the NYC collective known as the Juice Crew, which included members such as Big Daddy Kane and Masta Ace, the Biz was one unexpected and rather unwieldy dude, a guy who wasn’t afraid to be himself, embracing his oddities and twisted sense of humor. With his skills on the mic as well as his legendary beatboxing ability, Biz issued some real classics back in Hip-Hop’s Golden Age. Biz also gained some notoriety too, as a sample he utilized of songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan lead to a lawsuit from the singer-songwriter in the early ‘90s, effectively ending the golden age of freewheelin’ sampling in rap (Biz wasn’t the only rapper to get hit by sampling lawsuits, but his case was the most prominent one).

Those were sad times. But let’s move on.

Tonight’s post is from his 1988 debut, Goin’ Off, another fine reason as to why ’88 was really one of the best years ever in hip-hop. “Vapors” is a classic track, wherein Biz explores how fame can change a person’s life, and in particular, bring back people who wrote you off in the first place, featuring stories about fellow Juice Crew members Big Daddy Kane, Cutmaster Cool V, and TJ Swan. The production from Marley Marl is funky as hell, and Biz puts in a stellar performance.

“Can you feel it? Nothing can save ya…”

Originally posted on my old Tumblr blog, Emaciated Wildebeest, on September 27, 2011.

But wait, it’s 2021 and I’ve got more to say! Biz Markie was hip-hop’s clown prince, but beneath his jokes and wild asides was a legitimately talented emcee with a gift for humor, a large imagination, and an immensely unique personality. There’s a reason why Biz was sampled by every rapper from the late ’80s through mid-’90s, a reason why “Just A Friend” still reigns as a karaoke staple, and a reason why Biz is held in high regard by many. There wasn’t and still isn’t anyone like him. Rest in peace, Biz.

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