The Emmys Honored Biz Markie With An Amazing Tribute

2021 has been an incredibly difficult year for Hip-Hop. In the last nine months, we have lost DMX, Black Rob, Digital Underground’s Shock G, Blackalicious’ Gift Of Gab, Zion I’s MC Zumbi, as well as actors who have been significant to the culture, like The Wire‘s Michael Kenneth Williams and House Party and Friday‘s AJ Johnson. And, after false reports of his death weeks earlier, Biz Markie eventually succumbed to his longstanding fight with diabetes.

In Biz, Hip-Hop lost its original jokester. With songs like “Pickin’ Boogers,” freestyles from toilets, and some of the zaniest album covers in Rap history, Biz Markie never pretended to be a tough guy or the hardest guy on wax. Instead, he relished in making people laugh and not taking things too seriously. So, any tribute that was true to the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” should adhere to those principles, and, last night, that’s just what happened at the 2021 Emmy Awards.

Biz Markie Has Passed Away At Age 57

Led by Cedric the Entertainer, who hosted the event, LL Cool J, Lil Dicky, actress Rita Wilson and more joined forces in revamping Biz’s classic “Just A Friend,” both as a tribute and as a raucous celebration of the importance of television in our lives. After, Cedric’s intro, LL entered the room with his trademark booming presence. While most of the tribute was lighthearted, LL’s bars had deceptive depth. The Rock The Bells founder directly addressed Biz, rapping “This one’s for B-I-Z M-A-R-K-IE and / I got you boy, we pulled a gambit, they let Queens in,” the second line being a clever reference to Netflix’s breakout hit, The Queen’s Gambit. LL continued with powerful social commentary, saying “Sick of the quarantining / Sick of deferring dreams and / Fighting about vaccines and / Tonight I’m on your screen and.” From there, LL raps “We paused up on TV, got these famous people screaming / We came to flip the script and take Emmys from European / From 1520 Sedgwick to Emmy stages with Cedric / My job is to inspire / You looking at where you headed.” His last lines are a message to both Biz Markie and the world about how far Hip-Hop has come, from the rec center of Kool Herc’s building where his parties launched a cultural revolution, to the biggest celebration in TV, where that revolution is now being televised.

Biz Markie’s 30-Year-Old Springtime Anthem Is Still Fresh (Video)

Lil Dicky follows LL with deft rapping about the past year in television, directly rapping to some of the nominees. And, perhaps, the biggest surprise is Rita Wilson, who served up some bars of her own. In between the raps, actors like Reese Witherspoon, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Billy Porter and Daveed Diggs joined in on the anthemic chorus. By the song’s end, the entire room was on its feet, singing along. It was an unexpected, fun and fitting tribute to one of Hip-Hop’s one of a kind entertainers.

#BonusBeat: On a recent episode of Ambrosia For HeadsWhat’s The Headline podcast, we discussed Biz Markie’s extensive contributions to Hip-Hop—just days before his passing: