On July 16, 2021, Marcel Theo Hall, better known to the world as The Diabolical Biz Markie, passed away at the age of 57 due to complications with diabetes, adding to the already lengthy list of rappers we lost in the past few years. A lot of the mainstream media outlets tried to sum Biz’ career up as the “Just A Friend” rapper, which was easily his biggest pop record, but the hip-hop community knew that his catalog and contribution to the culture went much deeper than just that one song. Through the years, Biz blessed hip-hop with several dope records that amused and entertained. I’ve walked through Biz’ first three albums (Goin’ Off, The Biz Never Sleeps and I Need A Haircut) already, so today we’ll discuss his fourth release and his final album on Cold Chillin’ Records, All Samples Cleared!
The album title is a tongue-in-cheek response to the lawsuit that found Biz Markie guilty of copyright infringement for sampling Gilbert O’Sullivan’s record “Alone Again (Naturally)”, without permission for his song with the same title on the I Need A Haircut album. Biz’ thievery, excuse me, unauthorized borrowing, would cost him a hefty penny to the tune of $250,000 (which equates to 25 million pennies), and would force Cold Chillin’ to pull I Need A Haircut off the shelves and stop selling copies of the album with “Alone Again” on it. That case would pretty much change the sampling game as we know it, and Biz would make sure to get clearance on every sample used this time around. All Samples Cleared! wasn’t a commercial success nor did it garner the critical acclaim of his previous releases, and it would be another ten years before Biz would release another album (Weekend Warrior in 2003).
I don’t remember much about the songs on All Samples Cleared!, so this review will be a refreshener for me.
I’m The Biz Markie – Biz kicks off the evening with a mid-tempo bop built around a loop from the Mad Lads version of “Get Out Of My Life Woman” that finds our host showcasing his charismatic personality and comedic rhyme style: “It’s me the Diabolical, Biz Mark symbolical, I get chicks from scripts of hits I made a while ago, now I’m on the run again, startin’ other capers, and people couldn’t catch me even if I was the vapors, I’ll leave you in trauma, with my funky persona, cause I’m jammin’ just like Teddy, but I’m nasty as Madonna”. Biz’ rhymes sound like they were penned by his Juice Crew bredrin, Big Daddy Kane (who was a known ghost writer for Biz), but only the Biz could deliver them in this comical, slightly tongue-tied fashion, making this opening track entertaining as hell.
I’m A Ugly Nigga (So What) – In a foolish Fat Albert-esque voice, Biz starts this one off by paraphrasing a quote from the Harlem Renaissance writer, Dorothy West: “Beauty’s only skin deep, but ugly’s to the bone”. Biz always had a knack for making funny self-deprecating songs, and this is another one: “Junior High to High School they thought I was retarded, just because the way I looked they said I farted, I was very very sad and you wonder why, because my looks and my gear wasn’t ultra-fly…my parents told me beauty’s only skin deep, if that’s true why do girls think that I’m a creep?”. I felt a little guilty laughing at Biz’ childhood torment, but I’m sure it’s what he wanted. The instrumental (which according to the liner notes also includes a sample from Lee Dorsey’s version of “Get Out Of My Life Woman”) felt a little empty, but Biz Markie’s hilarious rhymes and hook kept me amused.
Young Girl Bluez – Salaam Remi gets his first production credit of the evening as he provides a beautifully somber backdrop for Biz to spit a story about meeting a voluptuous young lady that he dates for six months, only later to find out she’s a teenager. It’s not like the girl lied to Biz about her age, but he was so enthralled by her bangin’ body that he failed to ask (even though she drops some clues that should have made him question her age, like when she asks him to “Come and get me from Mickey D’s at 8, that’s where I work after school, pick me up for a date”). Everything comes to a head on the final verse when Biz goes to her birthday party and finds out it’s her sweet sixteen. Even though the content isn’t really a laughing matter, this is classic comedic Biz. By the way, the video for this one is hi-larious.
Family Tree – Biz recycles the first verse from I Need A Haircut‘s “On And On” and puts a different beat behind it. The verse was mildly funny, but there was absolutely no reason to bring it back for a whole new song.
Let Me Turn You On – Biz and Cool V loop up the classic McFadden & Whitehead record “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”, as Biz gets his clown on, attempting to arouse the ladies with his out of tune singing. This one is impossible not to like.
The Gator (Dance) – Biz sounds like somebody’s drunk uncle giving shoutouts to his peeps for the first half of this one. He then spends the second half stumbling and mumbling about his newest dance that he calls the gator over Salaam Remi’s flippage of a James Brown loop. The “gator” has nothing on the “Mudd Feet”, and that’s all I’ll say about the matter.
Groovin’ – Biz continues to sip on whatever he had in his cup on the previous track, as he gives more shoutouts and lets his drunken stream of consciousness flow over a cool laidback groove.
I’m Singin’ – Our host returns to the “semi-serious emcee” energy he gave us on the opening track, which immediately made me think that Kane penned his rhymes for this one as well (even though the liner notes only credit Biz as a writer). T-Ray gets the production credit, as he builds the backdrop around a sample of yet another version of “Get Out Of My Life Woman” (the liner notes credit Allen Toussaint’s version, but after listening to all three versions that have been sampled on the album so far, it sounds like this song uses the Lee Dorsey loop credited on “I’m A Ugly Nigga” and “I’m A Ugly Nigga” uses the Allen Toussaint version credited here.; sorry, I’m music nerding-out on y’all), and Biz sings a little Gene Kelly on the hook, adding the clown factor to a pretty solid song.
Hooker Got A Boyfriend – Biz digs back in his comical storyline bag for this one. He and Cool V loop up a few Rufus Thomas samples and create a soulful bop (I love the vocal loop and the blaring horns brought in during the hook) that finds our host trying to hook up with a chick whose boyfriend catches them in the act…twice! Now, if you get into a shootout with a chick’s man at a bar (hearing Biz say he “jetted, off to the trunk for the pump, time to set it” was awkward), why the hell would you go to her house the next day? That’s what Biz decides to do, and he ends up fighting the hooker’s, I mean, the chick’s boyfriend, while butt ass naked, then he gets into an altercation with the chick’s dad. After getting shot at, getting into fisticuffs (according to Biz’ story, his knuckle game is nice), and again threaten with a gun, Biz finally comes to the conclusion that “Ain’t a coochie in the whole world worth all that.” This is vintage Biz Markie.
Bad By Myself – Our host provides more comic relief with this one. This time he kicks three verses about a gold-diggin’ chick trying to juice him for his money. The soulful instrumental was dope, and Biz’ off-key singin’ on the hook was entertaining as well.
Funk Is Back – Biz decides to sample a fourth version of “Get Out Of My Life Woman” (Good Lord!), this time looping up Joe Williams jazzy rendition, which cultivates into a smooth laidback bop (Large Professor gets a credit for programming the drums) that he uses to give us a nice mixture of boasts and bizarre.
Thanks – All Samples Cleared! ends with a sick slow rolling instrumental built around an aggressively nasty bass guitar loop that Biz uses to give shoutouts over. In true Biz Markie form, he abandons the mic while in the middle of a shoutout, leaving Cool V to step in and finish handing out props to all their peoples. And All Samples Cleared! is a wrap.
Biz Markie sticks to the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” on All Samples Cleared!, as he stays with the formula that made him a hip-hop legend: light-hearted lyrical high jinks to provide comic relief over dope soul sample-driven beats to keep your head noddin’. All Samples Cleared! (Aka The Get Out Of My Life Woman Album) is probably not Biz’ best album, but it’s still a solid project that showcases vintage Biz Markie, both as a comedic emcee and a dope producer (the latter a skill set often underappreciated by the common listener).
The artwork on the back cover of All Samples Cleared! has a picture of a blinged-out gold chain with a diamond-incrusted clown dangling from it. Biz knew his placement in hip-hop and will forever be the chief court jester of this great genre. Rest easy, Biz.