Biz Markie Details How He Made The Mazda MPV A Hip-Hop Symbol
Biz Markie sat down with Questlove for the most recent episode of Questlove Supreme. There, the acclaimed MC/DJ/producer and super-collector had a lengthy and lighthearted conversation about his 35-year-career.
Quest’, a fellow collector, presses Biz about his Bowie, Maryland residence, which includes two houses—one for the Juice Crew member’s records, throwback jerseys, clothes, equipment, and other collections. At one point in the interview, Biz proposes a trade with Questlove for some multi-track reels from The Roots—Biz’s latest fascination (he has Frankie Beverly & Maze reels, thanks to the Beastie Boys’ relationship with Capitol Records).
Throughout the discussion, Biz explains how “The Vapors” is a real story, why “Just A Friend” began by hearing a record in 1982—and started out much faster. Biz also clarifies his historic sample lawsuit, where Gilbert O’Sullivan sued him in a game-changing case. According to Biz, the “Alone Again, Naturally” record was intended to be cleared all along. However, Cold Chillin’ Records CEO Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams upset O’Sullivan are a berating phone call, that may have ended up with Biz Markie’s suffering.
Along the discussion, Questlove fields some questions from Gang Starr’s DJ Premier. Preemo toured Japan with Biz and wants to know who is Hip-Hop’s best snapper—Big Shug (of Gang Starr Foundation) or the “diabolical” Biz. Naturally, Biz touts himself. The discussion then moves to cars. In the early 1990s, Premier had a Mazda MPV (Multi Purpose Van). The vehicle, modified with after-market speakers, became a legendary listening station for rappers. Questlove recalls the vehicle. However, Biz claims he started the fad—which would later be celebrated in Wu-Tang Clan lyrics, as well as references by The Notorious B.I.G., Big L, Atmosphere, Artifacts, Prodigy, Fat Joe, and Diamond D, among others.
“For my layer of Hip-Hop, DJ Premier’s van was like the be-all, end-all van to test your music. I’ma get to you Biz; I’ma give you the credit…when Premier told me, ‘Yo dog, Biz was the first cat I saw–” begins Questlove. Biz interrupts: “–MPV. Can I tell you the story now?…some of my boys from Uptown, and I think y’all saw the movie Paid In Full. Well, I used to hang with Azie [Faison]. I used to hang with Alpo [Martinez]. I used to hang with Rich Porter. Rich Porter was one of the flyest dudes known to man, to this date. So, he had an MPV first. I said, ‘Yo man, what is that?’ So I sat in there with him; we talked for about an hour, half an hour. The next day, I went and got two of ’em. I got a black one…” Questlove interjects, “But they were expensive!” Biz takes over, “I had money; I had [sings] you got what I need…‘ [Laughs] So I got me one, and I got Cool V a blue one. But with mines, I put like $12,000 of system in there. You gotta think: in ’89, that’s a lot of money.” Sadly, Rich Porter would be murdered in 1990.
Quest asks Biz why he didn’t get a Jeep, the vehicle popularized by Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Terminator X, and others at that time. “I didn’t want a Jeep; I didn’t want to be like everybody else,” says the Harlem-born, Long Island reppin’ Biz. “I had a DAT, cassette, everything in it…At the time, I used to see Preemo, blah, blah, blah. He saw my joint, and he got one. But he got one with deep-dish rims. I said, ‘Yo Preem’, where’d you get that? [Laughs] ‘Cause I had black chrome BBS [wheels].” Biz would rap about his Mazda on “Bad All By Myself”:
Later in the Questlove Supreme interview, Biz recalls a basketball game with Beastie Boys and Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E. that led to his famous cover of Elton John’s “Benny & The Jets.”