With a run time that goes beyond two hours, viewers are treated to memories and anecdotes from the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Fat Joe, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Doug E. Fresh, Dapper Dan, Prince Paul, Rakim, Marley Marl and Biz himself.
“I met with Biz maybe a year and a half before his death,” Jenkins tells HipHopDX. “He was ready to have a doc made about his life. We had a great conversation. He had lots of ideas; the man was really a beast creatively.”
First-hand interviews are supplemented with archival footage, animation and, in some cases, puppets to act out certain key moments in Biz Markie’s life. Given the colorful nature of Biz’s music, album cover art and massive collections, it seemed in tune with his spirit.
“I mentioned that I wanted to utilize puppets and animation,” Jenkins continues. “He was totally with it, which makes me feel like we did him right with All Up in the Biz. Some people aren’t with the puppet but I feel like Biz has co-signed from the great beyond.”
One such moment that has gotten the attention of early viewers is a recreation of Biz in the University of Maryland Hospital having a conversation with his widow, Tara Hall, and his doctor about his declining health. Biz Markie had been battling diabetes and the complications that come with it. He was also recovering from a stroke at the time of his death.
“We recreated Biz’s hospital room,” says Jenkins. “He fought for his life in that room for a year plus, during COVID. So the only person who got to see him was his wife. I wanted people to know that he had love as he fought. Getting an actor to play Biz is out of the question but getting his wife to act opposite a Biz puppet — now that’s the ticket!”
The first appearance of Biz Markie as a puppet was in the video for Masta Ace’s inventive collaboration, 1990’s “Me & The Biz.” The song was intended to be a duet between Ace and Biz Markie, but due to tension between Biz and Juice Crew producer Marley Marl, Biz declined to appear on the song. Ace moved forward using the reference verse he recorded for Biz, as well as a felt and cotton avatar in the video.
Ace takes a moment in the documentary to address the situation with a touching tribute that shouldn’t be missed.
“It was very emotional for me shooting that scene with the Biz puppet,” Masta Ace tells DX. “It brought my relationship with him full circle and the realization of not being able to express those sentiments to him in person really hit me in that moment.”
Jenkins hired a puppet master from the popular Crank Yankers show for All Up in the Biz because he wasn’t able to use the original puppet. “I’m grateful because my pivot is even better,” he says. “That’s what you call thinking on your feet and landing feet first!”
Any puppet controversies aside, All Up in the Biz is a fitting tribute to a man and artist who touched so many people and left behind a legacy that cannot be replicated.
“Biz’s influence runs deep,” Jenkins concludes. “The fact that he had a hand in the careers of Big Daddy Kane and Rakim says it all. From the Juice Crew to beatboxing to deejaying and emceeing to even collecting records and things to getting fresh with the gear to snapping on fools, nobody beats the Biz.”
All Up in the Biz is streaming now on Showtime and Paramount+.