Album Review: Biz Markie "Biz Never Sleeps" (Cold Chillin' 1989)

March 12, 2012 4 min read

Biz Markie rose to become a highly recognizable enigma in the Hip Hop sphere thru his musical mad scientist capers as part of the Legendary Juice Crew. Without a doubt, Hip Hop was no stranger to comedy and bugged out characters (EX: Rammellzee, Kool Keith, Busy Bee, Fat Boys, Funkmaster Wizard Wiz, etc…), but Biz Markie was among the most successful to transform his odd mannerisms into a prosperous Rap career.

Per Juice Crew standard practice, Biz Markie’s debut album, “Goin’ Off”, was produced by Marley Marl. However, Biz Markie came back one year later, alongside DJ Cool V, to triumphantly handle the full production load of “Biz Never Sleeps”. He managed to craft a personalized sound ideal for his themes and antics. Truthfully, Biz Markie was probably the most prosperous Juice Crew alumni to pursue a production career, composing full albums not only for himself, but also for the likes of Diamond Shell, Kid Capri, and Grand Daddy IU. I was actually surprised he didn’t push the production potential even further.

It’s not a stretch to say that Biz Markie is a sort of unlikely Hero in Hip Hop. As an MC he has an oddball sense of rhythm. As a lyricist he was known to enlist the help of writers, such as Big Daddy Kane or perhaps just trust his instincts and go the pure off the top of the domepiece route. Plus, stars are generally perceived to have a look of glamour or beauty and let’s face it, Biz Markie is severely lacking there. However, the odds can always be beaten with the proper tools. The Inhuman Orchestra proved quite resourceful in making use of his strengths; left field topics, car wreck worthy irresistible imagery, and wearing his self-proclaimed Bizarreness on both sleeves.

On “Biz Never Sleeps” he educates us on the importance of school (“Check It Out”), combats bad breath (“The Dragon”), professes childhood love (“She’s Not Just Another Woman”), faces the deception of a transvestite (“A Thing Named Kim”), and a host of other misadventures. On noticeable difference from the debut album is the lack of the skill that earned him the title The Inhuman Orchestra, his Human Beat Box Skills. It's not completely absent as he kicks some nonsensical freestyles over a fun-filled Human Beat Box tune on "Me Versus Me".

The album also produced at least two hit singles. “Spring Again” has an uptempo Soulful Disco feel, creating the vibe perfect for a Spring Time Anthem, “Don’t you like when the Winter’s gone/And all of the sudden it starts getting warm/The trees and the grass start looking fresh/And the sun and the sky be looking its best/Birds be singing, flowers be blooming/A lot of brand new cars be zooming.” In fact, this song is perfect for right about now… welcomed, simple, honest, and relatable.

Speaking of which, I imagine many people, from one side of the coin or the other, can relate to the sentiments expressed in “Just A Friend”. Love, young or old, can be full of great fun, but you gotta watch for those signs of deception or you might find yourself in a similar predicament to the Biz, “A fellow tongue kissing my girl in the mouth/I was so in shock my heart went down South/So please listen to the message that I send/Never talk to a girl who says she just has a friend”.

Before going any further I should admit, I never owned this album back in the day. At the time, I was living with a friend, The Black Man Zeke. To be frugal we would split the tape buying duties and this Biz Markie was released on his watch. I borrowed it one day and made a dub of my favorite few songs, which were the aforementioned “Check It Out”, plus “I Hear Music” and “Biz In Harmony”.

“I Hear Music” is one-part Hip Hop flashback and one-part demand for respect for the art of Hip Hop. It’s by no means a popular song is the Biz’s catalog, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. Cool V also flexes his turntable skills quite nicely on here as well.

One antic Biz Markie is most famous for in Hip Hop is making bad singing an art. His over the top, out of key crooning graced some of the choruses of his biggest and most successful songs. “Biz in Harmony” subtracts the rapping and allows him to push his amateurish, but charming singing to the limit, complete with some official support from the Killer Force Connection. This is just awesome…

[audio:|titles=12 Biz in the Harmony]

“Biz Never Sleeps” proved that Biz Markie and Cool V had the goods to tinker away in the laboratory and devise a winning formula for some light-hearted Hip Hop that left a heavy impression on the world of Hip Hop.

“The Biz Never Sleeps” is now reissued on LP and Deluxe CD. The LP version comes with the original tracklisting, but also includes a large 22” X 22” alternate album cover poster. The Deluxe CD has the original tracklisting + some bonus 12” single versions of “Just A Friend” and “Spring Again”: special mixes, instrumentals, and Dub versions. Plus some never before seen photos from the original album photographer, George DuBose! I’m certainly glad to finally have my own copy and with some additional treats none-the-less, it makes me want to get up and do the “Muddfoot” dance…

Oh yeah, don’t forget to scoop your “Biz Never Sleeps” collectible puzzle! Get em before their gone….

Written By Kevin Beacham

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