Biz Markie

A well-loved pop culture figure for over three decades, rapper Biz Markie established his fame through his exceptional beatboxing skills and off-kilter rapping on singles like "The Vapors," "Nobody Beats the Biz" and "Just a Friend," which rocketed him to the top of the hip-hop charts in the early 1990s. However, a lawsuit involving unauthorized use of a sample on the 1991 single "Alone Again" not only capsized his career, but also changed the structure of recording hip-hop music by requiring labels to clear all samples prior to an album's release. However, Markie's oversized personality kept him afloat in the wake of the suit, mostly as a guest performer on television shows, as well as albums by the Beastie Boys and Will Smith. By the new millennium, he had transformed from class clown to admired elder statesman of hip-hop, as well as a guaranteed laugh generator on television shows ranging from "Celebrity Fit Club" (VH1, 2005-2010) and "Yo Gabba Gabba!" (Nick Jr./Noggin, 2007). Throughout the often-unusual trajectory of his career, Markie never lost his commitment to old-school hip-hop through the venerable art of beatboxing, a skill that required just one instrument - his mouth - and a limitless imagination.