A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Oh, for today we have one of the greats — The Diabolical Biz Markie with “Check It Out” off the 1989 album “The Biz Never Sleeps”, best known for his hit “Just A Friend”.
So please take heed, to what I say
I hope I’m not sayin it for my health today
Cause if I am please tell me, so I can stop
It’s not like I’m your mother sister brother or pop
So come on and listen to me without no doubt
So you can be educated and have, clout
I’m sure I picked up this album when it came out due to the success of “Just a Friend” but there are so may great songs on this album – “The Dragon” , “Spring Again”, “She’s Not Just Another Woman”. The cover of the album is great – from the front where Biz is the mad scientist in the lab to the back cover where the Biz and Cutmaster Cool V enjoy a bowl of “Diabolical Crunch” cereal (which appears to be a bowl of gold jewelry), about 10 cups of coffee and a huge stack of pancakes, the visuals set the pace for this record. Biz starts off the album with a 4 minute track of dedications which just goes on and on and then gets immediately stupid with “The Dragon”, a song about body odor.
Despite having a reputation for silly songs like “The Dragon” and”Pickin’ Boogers”, Biz left plenty of room on this record for some slightly moralizing songs. “Check it Out” falls into that category – a song that basically is just a callout to kids to stay in school, avoid drugs/alcohol, listen to their parents/teachers/other authority figures. It’s not exactly what you would think of when you think of classic hip-hop. The funny thing about this is that despite essentially being a PSA for being a good kid, the Biz somehow finds a way to actually make it a fun song.
He gets deep on a couple other tracks on the album – “My Man Rich” and “Things Get A Little Easier”. In “My Man Rich”, Biz talks about his buddy Rich who struggles to find a job (“Even though, times was rough / We kept searchin’, searchin’, lookin’ and lookin’ / It seems everywhere we went, the jobs was tooken”) and ends up selling crack where he ultimately winds up dead. In “Things Get A Little Easier” he talks more about that intersection of drugs and poverty – “Subject two, and this one is a doozy / A messed up story about a girl named Suzy / Now when you’re on WIC, the problems may seem enough / But you know she had to get Scotty to beam her up”. So while much of the world may just know Biz as the “Just A Friend” guy, there was certainly more depth to his lyrics and his music than that one single would suggest.
Put this one in my top 10 hip hop albums. Love the Biz. I love it when he showed up on Beastie Boys’ songs. I loved when he covered “Benny and the Jets”. I love seeing Biz in a Steelers jersey. I love when he explains how to do the “Muddfoot”:
I want everybody to do the dance, let me show you
You see, you gotta act like you crippled
Like you just got one leg, and you know you just gotta just
You gotta just, ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-just gotta relax
and just, let the music take over your body and just chill