Ever See This ’91 Cypher With Leaders Of The New School, Biz Markie & More? (Video)
At the top of the 1990s, many Hip-Hop artists were coming together in the name of peace, unity, love, understanding, and having fun. Collectives like the Native Tongues and Diggin’ In The Crates (which was not even minted yet) earned the respect of the pioneers by keeping alive the 1970s and early ’80s approach to party-rocking and music-making. These new figures acknowledged the O.G.’s and often worked with them on projects. Thus, on many stages, videos, and songs, there was generational harmony simply through collaboration.
In the fall of 1991 Biz Markie, Smooth B, Nikki D, and the Leaders of the New School gathered at New York City’s Cooley High Academy for an epic on-stage freestyle session. Biz had more than five years of success under his built as a breakout star from the Juice Crew, with a gold album (The Biz Never Sleeps) and platinum crossover single (“Just A Friend”). Together with their DJ, Teddy Tedd, Nice & Smooth had been making moves Uptown for just as long, products of the scene around T. La Rock, Boogie Down Productions, and Kurtis Mantronik. B-I-Z and Smooth were on-hand to share the stage with some exciting new artists in Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and Nikki D.
In the opening part of the sequence from the “Video Music Box Library” video on AFH TV (available for a free 30-day trial), Charlie Brown kicked off the festivities, seemingly coming off the dome and utilizing the “riggity riggity” style of the time. In his rhyme, Brown gave props to Video Music Box‘s Ralph McDaniels as well as Funkmaster Flex, who was posted up behind the 1’s and 2’s. The would-be HOT 97 mainstay kept the crowd hype by cutting up the classic breakbeat by The Honeydrippers’ “Impeach the President.”
The mic was then went to Brown’s Leaders band-mate with the visceral energy, Busta Rhymes. A superstar in the making, the bright red shirt-wearing Bussa Bus spit his verse from the L.O.N.S. joint “Shining Star” from the Strictly Business soundtrack. “Go and knock ‘em dead is my motto for the year / People step up, and then they try to plant fear / All in my heart, please, I beg you, don’t start / Dimming my light will make my world fall apart,” Busta rapped. His excitement can barely be contained as he moves about the stage.
The microphone was then passed to the third vocalist of Leaders, Dinco D, who spit a verse that was released years later by Q-Tip from the second demo take of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario.”
Smooth B kept the cypher going with a brief chorus and verse from “Sex, Sex, Sex” off of Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed. This is before he passed the mic to then-Def Jam label-mate, Nikki D. “Put a ni**a in his place / Smack him in the face / Before I eat a meal, pick up my fork, I say my grace,” the grossly underrated Nikki spit.
Batting cleanup was the diabolical Biz Markie. In classic Biz Mark’ fashion, the “Just a Friend” rapper stole the show with enigmatic vocal stylings that mimicked turntable scratching, Dancehall chants, and drum machines, punctuated by an off-the-dome rhyme that sent the crowd into hysterics. The beat-box royalty knew just what the crowd needed.
During this time Leaders Of The New School, Nikki D, Nice & Smooth, and Biz Markie were promoting their respective albums, A Future Without A Past, Daddy’s Little Girl, Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed, and I Need A Haircut.
While everyone in the ’91 freestyle session did their thing, the charisma of Busta and Biz is evident in the video. They jump off of the screen with their mannerisms and into your ears with their vocal tones. Their ability to captivate audiences is a major part of what has made them successful artists, and what keeps them going strong today.