Biz Markie "Just a Friend" to a New Generation of Music Lovers
The rapper fills us in on his current…projects.
Rapper, beatboxer, and DJ Biz Markie, the "clown prince of Hip-Hop," is back on tour. This time, however, the man known for the song "Just a Friend," which made VH1's list of "Top 100 Hip-Hop songs of All Time," will hit 50 cities with a crew that includes Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex. Also joining their "Get The Sillies Out!" tour is DJ Lance Rock. We're aware this isn't your typical tour name. It's also not your typical tour. Biz Markie's posse of oddly-named individuals are actually trippy toys that make up the hit children's TV show, Yo Gabba Gabba!, which airs on Nick Jr.
TheaterMania got a moment to chat with the genius/mogul/chef/beloved children's beat-boxer about the tour, hip-hop hitting Broadway, and plans for a new album, and successfully refrained from introducing ourselves as "blah-blah-blah."
When you were first approached to be in Yo Gabba Gabba!, what vibed with you?
I was happy because it's for the kids…the kids being on stage, the kids' faces when I'm teaching them to beat box, and how happy they are.
Tell me about tour.
[I]t's way different than last year. It's gonna be crazy, guaranteed, crazy.
What's the difference between a tour like this and the tours you go on as a hip-hop artist?
There's no real difference. You do your job. You're rocking the show. Your job is to be rocking the show. It's just that in this one, you're interacting with people. You're up close and personal. We bring people on stage. The audience dances with us.
Can you tell me about any special guests on the tour?
I can't tell you who they are but I can tell you there is gonna be a lot of them.
What about a hint?
I can't give you a hint.
Your regular segment on the show [and tour] is ‘Biz's beat of the day.' What is that, exactly?
It's the real pure essence of hip hop, so I teach [the kids] beat boxing. Everything is so digital now that I want to teach them how to have regular, pure fun.
Have you peers in the hip-hop community given you any, um, "grief" for working on a kids show?
Nah. Everyone loves it. My friends either got kids or grandkids cause I'm an old school rapper, so people be happy.
Are you working on any new music?
Since everyone keeps asking me about it, I'm...doing a new album, an album of covers…Beastie Boys and "Benny and the Jets," stuff like that.
I heard a rumor about you teaching a cooking class…?
I teach a cooking class in D.C. every week [through] the Living Social network. I teach 40 students. It's real cooking. The last thing we cooked was chicken pâté in peanut sauce, and sugar-free cupcakes.
Do you have a background in cooking? I always watched my moms and pops [cook.] I've gotten better at it over the years, just dabbling. It's just like messing around with a computer: the more you mess around with it, the better you get.
So, Broadway has a musical coming out [in March] about Motown, and has had musicals about almost every kind of music – jazz, The Rat Pack, hair bands. Do you think a major hip-hop musical is possible?
Yeah, you could do that. You have enough hits. Old school hits [would be] more fresh [on stage].
Who should star in it?
I can't even say.
I would star in it. I'd sing and laugh. I'd do everything. I still got my moves.