Family and friends paid their last respects Monday to Biz Markie, a hip-hop artist who rose to stardom through countless house party performances on Long Island in the 1980s.
Inside the Patchogue Theatre where Markie’s funeral was held, letters spelling out “BIZ,” flowers and a colorful self-portrait of Markie, whose real name was Marcel Theo Hall, were displayed next to his black casket as one by one people told stories of the 57-year-old who died July 16.
Music video director Ralph McDaniels said he remembered Markie, who was born in Harlem and moved to Patchogue, in the 1980s when he beatboxed for Juice Crew member Roxanne Shanté.
McDaniels said Markie’s creativity lives on through his videos that “still to this day stand” through songs such as his 1989 single “Just a Friend.”
“I see people recreating that video,” McDaniels said.
Markie’s cousin, Vaughan Lee, known as “DJ Cool V” said he touched so many people through his music.
“He wanted to put Long Island on the map,” Lee said, holding back tears. “Biz was a big, big dreamer.”
Markie’s mic and turntable talents made him an in-demand DJ for celebrities. His flair for comedy and a keep-it-fun-and-light vibe caught the eye of talent scouts.
Long Island hip-hop fans were well aware of Markie’s skills at beatboxing — a form of vocal percussion using the mouth and teeth to mimic a drum machine or other musical instruments.
Village officials previously told Newsday anyone driving on West Avenue where it crosses South Street in Patchogue will pass a lasting tribute in the form of a street sign, “Biz Markie Way.”
In the early 1980s, a formative decade for hip-hop before it had branched out and made stars of Public Enemy, De La Soul and other Long Island-based rappers, Markie’s skills had already made believers out of Daryl “Chill” Mitchell and Belal Miller.
Both graduated in 1983 from Wyandanch Memorial High School and partied and created with Markie, whose sound would eventually climb the Billboard charts, etched in a hip-hop style all his own.
“These sounds that we thought was astonishing to see a DJ do with their hands,” Mitchell, 56, previously told Newsday. “… [Markie] is making the exact same sounds with his mouth.”
Markie performed in fundraising concerts at the high school — with the first one in February 1985 — along with Miller, who was in his early years as a DJ.
All the parties and traveling from one Long Island town to another for performances started paying off for Markie in 1986 as a member of the Juice Crew, a collection of rappers with roots in Queensbridge. He beatboxed his way through “Biz Beat,” a song recorded with crewmate Roxanne Shanté.
Two years later, Markie released his debut album “Goin’ Off,” and that summer, went on a U.S. tour with acts including Doug E. Fresh, Eric B, Rakim, Kool Moe Dee and Boogie Down Productions.
Markie’s 1989 album, aptly titled, “The Biz Never Sleeps” included the Top 10 single “Just a Friend.”
Check back for updates on this developing story.