The name Biz Markie needs no introduction. An original of the hip-hop scene; the DJ, MC and innovator of the industry is gracing our shores for the very first time this June. On board with the Yo Gabba Gabba! tour, the man with the many titles is also sneaking in a few sideshows to display what he does best. And boy does he do it well. A leader of his craft, he chats to us about the leaders, the followers and what separates the two.
You’re hitting our shores for what I believe is the first time tour-wise; have you ever visited out this way before?
Never. First time.
Does that kind of blow you away that you’re this deep into your career and you’re still yet to come visit us?
People have been trying to get me over there, but I just didn’t want to take the long flight.
You’re lazy man!
It’s a long-ass flight! (Laughs)
Are there any particular things you’re excited about seeing or doing while you’re here in Australia?
I just want to see how I get off this plane and how I react more than anything! To see the sights and have fun.
I suppose you’ll want to bring that fun energy to your performances over here too?
Oh yeah definitely! I want it to be crazy!
What can we actually expect from a Biz Markie show in 2011?
It’s going to be incredible. All I can tell you is that you’re going to have a lot of fun!
Is it a set that we’re going to see take us all the way back to ’88 via ‘Going Off’ your first solo album?
’88 to ’98 to ’08, all the eights! The whole way through, a lot of fun…
Do you think that the climate for Rap Music has changed? In terms of a broader appreciation for those legacy artists like yourself in 2011 that allows you to come out to Australia and have a strong audience? As opposed to ‘94/95 where the cultural acceptance of hip-hop may not have been quite as strong.
Well I really can’t speak on it because I was a different type of artist; I was more of a character. I wasn’t like a regular, average artist.
Do you feel that anyone has taken the legacy of that character driven MC? It’s something that I think you were pretty heavily involved in pioneering with your material. Do you feel that there is anyone right now within the current musical landscape that has taken that legacy and run with it?
Not really. I don’t think nobody can do me!
Do you think that’s more you speaking of your personal approach to music in its uniqueness? Or perhaps that the music industry doesn’t really push character driven artists right now, it’s more about the look or that single with the latest singer or the latest dance producer, the focus being on different things now?
Yeah, it’s more followers than leaders.
Do you think that’s what made that period in time from late ‘80s even up through to the mid-90s exciting because there were so many new styles being pioneered right then?
Do you know what it is between you and me, I think it’s they listen to the people at the record labels. You’ve got to be like this, you’ve got to be like that. They dress the same, they act the same, everything is the same.
When you were working with those early labels, ‘Cold Chillin’ you had a cross-deal with Warner Brothers at some point. Was the creative freedom always there to be yourself and push whatever kind of angle you wanted with your music?
We were guinea pigs. Being guinea pigs there was nobody there to point anybody in any direction, they just had to trust us in being creative.
With the weight of that trust did you ever overthink it? Thinking, “Woah, we’ve got a lot of responsibility here!”
I’m saying between us that they just had to trust us. They didn’t know how to do it; they didn’t know how to approach hip-hop like that.
You’re working a lot with Yo Gabba Gabba! right now, is there a particular artist that you guys haven’t had on the show yet that you’d like to see come through?
I think this year we might have some very interesting artists that we didn’t have last year that I’ll probably try to get on, Flavor Flav, etc. It’s going to be crazy.
Working with Yo Gabba Gabba! and artists you’ve had come through in the past, do you sit down with the creative team and go for example “I’d like to see us get The Roots…?”
They usually ask me for input. I’d be telling them this would be good for the show and sometimes they pick on their own.
With having those kinds of artists on the show it’s a pretty crazy thing. You’re saying that this is valid. This is valid music.
It’s real good music on the show. They know I’m official so they know that’s official.
Looking at it from where your career has taken you does it seem kind of surreal? When I was doing some initial research I came across an interview on YouTube with you with a woman that sounded like she must have been in her late-30s. Would have never listened to rap music before but her kid loves Yo Gabba Gabba! and your ‘Beats with Biz’ section. Do you find it interesting that you’ve found an appreciation of Rap music for a completely different audience?
Not really. I say not really because I’ve always done things for kids anyway.
How do you mean?
I always did things for kids in the neighbourhood anyway. I’ve always entertained kids. That’s been all my life.
Want to know more? Sure thing, click here! You can catch Biz Markie for first time in Australia from June 9 at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney and the Espy in Melbourne on June 10. Biz will also be taking part in the upcoming Yo Gabba Gabba! Australian tour.