Biz Markie passed away on July 16 at a Maryland-area hospital following a year of health complications stemming from Type II diabetes. While the Hip Hop community continues to mourn his death, the Juice Crew legend’s legacy lives on in a new documentary called Where We’re From: Rise of L.A. Underground Hip Hop.
Throughout the roughly 90-minute film, producers/directors DJ Bonds and DJ Breeze explore the emergence of Los Angeles underground Hip Hop in the late 1990s/early 2000s, recounted firsthand by some of its architects. It also includes archival footage from Club Elements and interviews with Hip Hop luminaries Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Hieroglyphics, The Beat Junkies, Planet Asia, Defari and more.
In an exclusive clip obtained by HipHopDX, veteran Brooklyn MC Jeru The Damaja looked back on his friendship with Biz and recalled a time when the Human Beatbox gave up his time slot at the 2000 Live From The BBQ Festival so Jeru could rock, too.
“I remember we had an issue with my time slot that somehow or some way, the time slots got moved around, so I was going to be able to go on, and Biz gave me his spot,” he explains. “‘Cause that’s my man and he gave me his spot.”
Biz Markie didn’t get a chance to do his full set, but the crowd went wild as he performed “Just A Friend” with the voraciousness of an angry pitbull and a giant smile slapped across his face, as was typical for the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop.”
During a recent interview with DX, Biz Markie’s longtime DJ and friend, Cutmaster Cool V, revealed they never made a single dime off “Just A Friend,” Biz’s biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit.
“Everybody called us crazy,” he said of making the song. “Like, ‘Yo, you going to really let him do that?’ I said, ‘Man, he feeling it. I got a good feeling about this record.’ And we did it. It just took off. It morphed into something that we could never imagine. But it was bittersweet. The sweetness comes in that we were able to perform it for almost 31 years. And now comes the other side of it — we never made money off the record. I still haven’t got paid for that record.”
Cool V attributed the lack of earnings to Biz Markie signing “an incredibly bad contract,” among other things.
“It trickled down,” he said. “So, we never made money off the record. But, we made the money off the shows and we had a great performing career. But now it gets back to the bittersweet because every time I hear it, it’s going to remind me of Biz, but it’s also going to remind me of how I can’t make more money off of it. Everybody’s feeding their family off our work and we’ve never made money off that record.”
But “Just A Friend” put smiles on the faces of countless people around the world, as demonstrated in Where We’re From: Rise of L.A. Underground Hip Hop. The film is expected to arrive in home theaters everywhere on August 24.
Until then, check out the official trailer below.