Finding The GOAT: Biz Markie vs. Erick Sermon…Who You Got?

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Hi. We recently created AFH TV, Ambrosia For Heads’ streaming video service, because we believe real Hip-Hop deserves its own dedicated TV home. But, there are doubters, so, we need your help. If you have enjoyed anything on AFH over the last 7 years, we are asking you to subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and already features some amazing content, but the best is yet to come. Thank you for all of your support.

As we continue the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time), we are asking you to help us rank who is the greatest MC to pick up a mic. We will take over 35 years of Hip-Hop into consideration, pairing special match-ups in a sequence not unlike March Madness. For the next several months, we will roll out battles, starting with artists from similar eras paired against one another, until one undisputed King or Queen of the microphone reigns supreme.

The next two MCs to square-off innovated the idea of what a rapper should look like, sound like, and talk about: Biz Markie and Erick Sermon. Each with strong ties to Long Island, these are two double-threats who are as good with music as they are with spitting words into microphones. From supreme crews, The Juice Crew and EPMD, respectively, each stood out enough to usher in strong solo success, which carries into today on both counts. These are two GOATs not often mentioned, but highly deserving given their influence, string of hits, and ingenuity with the mic in their hands. Read these quite different backgrounds and histories, and cast your vote.

Biz Markie

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From an era where Rap’s future appeared in question, Biz Markie may be a jester, but he has proved to be the antithesis of a gimmick. Before Flavor Flav to Chuck D, Bizarre to Eminem, it was Biz Markie that was the comedic foil of the Juice Crew, creating lighthearted moments alongside the powerful messages and lyrical slaughter of Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, and Craig G. In addition to his one-of-a-kind visages, interests in cartoons and junkfood, Biz Markie was an innovator—an artist who recorded his vocals whimsically, broke into song, and developed rhyme routines that have endured nearly 30 years later.

Since the mid-1990s, the Biz has become a top-drawing DJ. However, the Long Island representative was among Rap’s first stars. Somewhere between The Fat Boys and Rakim is the gap-toothed MC who famously took an electronics store jingle and made a staple for MCs, DJs, and Hip-Hop Heads universal in “Nobody Beats The Biz.” With a background in beat-boxing, Biz had a flexible delivery allowing his bravado to reach a place others couldn’t. On his albums, largely released in the Cold Chillin’ Records canon, Biz also told stories, urged the youth to stay in school, and even with heavy strokes of humor, alluded to the absence of love, the doubters, and people who put down the strange-looking star who would later be a late series addition to “In Living Color.”

With resonant, often hard-hitting rhymes, Biz Markie’s deepest contributions to being a master of ceremony may be his message to be unique, be original, and be exaggerated. The artist who regularly pulled out his belly during Rap and DJ sets blazed trails for Rick Ross. The MC who poked fun at himself, while still showing that he was a supreme MC set the table for Eminem. The artist who laughed at all those who doubted all of his cohorts who started from the bottom while singing about it lit the streets for Drake. And he’s still hear, laughing about it…

Notable Tracks:

“Nobody Beats The Biz” (1988)
“Check It Out” (1989)
“Tear Shit Up” (with DJ Jazzy Jeff) (2003)

Erick Sermon

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Before Large Professor, Lord Finesse, and the Dr. Dre that we know about today, Erick Sermon was a supreme producer who could tear down his own beats. Alongside fellow GOAT bid Parrish Smith, E-Double was a comical, pop culture-savvy MC who had a raspy, bigger than life delivery in making EPMD a gold-certified independent Rap crew. More than 25 years later, on his own, in the group, with Def Squad, and everything in between, the Green-Eyed Bandit has delivered fundamental rhyme skills into the new millennium.

Another Long Island native (and another double-threat), Erick Sermon’s delivery comes from the show-and-prove ’80s. While it was always “business,” Sermon forever seemed to be having fun on the microphone, as he bragged about his skills, keeping “Jane” at bay, and his unwavering love of “music.” With a nasal delivery and effortless cadence, Sermon proved to be a major influence on The Notorious B.I.G, in addition to his tangible mentorship of Redman, Keith Murray, Method Man, and the earliest days of Rick Ross. A true microphone commander, the ‘E’ forever used a soft approach, never shuttering his self-confidence. However, against the didactic contemporaries, Erick’s sermons have always been palpable, easily digestible reminders of what pedigree he comes from.

In qualifying an MC’s merits, music is secondary. However, just as much as any contender for the GOAT title, few can claim to twist the knobs, and self-sustain the presentation as much as Erick Sermon. A keeper of the funk, a bringer of the bounce, and a gifted giver of the gab, this timeless Hip-Hop voice may make the fisherman hat a crown.

Notable Tracks:

“It’s My Thing” (with EPMD) (1988)
“Why Not” (with Slick Rick) (2000)
“Music” (with Marvin Gaye) (2001)

So…Who you got?

Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets

Biz Markie

or

Erick Sermon

Related: Check Out The Other Ambrosia For Heads “Finding The Goat” Ballots