September 1989: Biz Markie Releases "Just a Friend"

Biz Markie in 1988
Photo Credit
David Corio/Redferns

He was born Marcel Theo Hall in New York City in 1964, but odds are you know him better by his stage name, Biz Markie...and,  just speaking from a statistical standpoint, you likely know his 1989 hit single, “Just a Friend.”

Although credited to Biz Markie, who also produced the track himself, the fact of the matter is that “Just a Friend” wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Freddie Scott’s “(You) Got What I Need,” a 1968 recording which provided the predominant sample for “Just a Friend,” something which will become ridiculously evident to you within the first few seconds of listening to Scott’s song.

Okay, back to the Biz at hand! (See what we did there?)

“Just a Friend” was the first single from Biz Markie’s 1989 album The Biz Never Sleeps, and thanks to a video as amusing as the song itself, it helped Biz peaked at No. 9 - his biggest hit.

What’s crazy, though, is that despite the song’s tremendous success, “Just a Friend” proved to be Biz’s first and last time anywhere within the confines of the Hot 100.

On the other hand, it did kick off a nice run of Top 10 hits on Billboard’s rap singles chart for Biz: after “Just a Friend” hit No. 4, he also had hits with 1991’s “What Comes Around Goes Around” (No. 4) and two 1993 singles, “Let Me Turn You On” (No. 7) and “Young Girl Bluez” (No. 4). (The same unfortunately can’t be said for his other ’93 single, “Toilet Stool Rap.”)

Unfortunately, Biz Markie hasn’t been doing well of late, health-wise. In July 2020, he was hospitalized with complications from type 2 diabetes, after which he effectively went M.I.A. for six months, vanishing from social media as well as from his SiriusXM radio show Rock the Bells.

Finally, an update came courtesy of HipHopDX in December 2020, from a source “close to Biz and his situation”:

He’s not doing great, but it’s not as scandalous as it felt in the beginning. Short story is Biz is diabetic, he had slipped into a diabetic coma, but that has happened to him in the past and it would only last a little while. He would go to the hospital, get discharged and get his meds under control. This particular time, he had a stroke while he was in the middle of the coma.

We wish Biz the best of birthdays and hope that he gets all the good health he can handle!

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