Friday, February 14, 2014

Remember Biz Markie's Lost Album?

There was a solid, ten year gap between Biz Markie's fourth (All Samples Cleared, 1993) and fifth (Weekend Warrior, 2003) albums. Of course, part of that had to do with the end of the Juice Crew/ Cold Chillin' pairing; so he was no longer recording and releasing LPs routinely for Warner Bros. But still, nobody expected him to stay away quite so long. Not even Biz himself. See, in the mid 90s, he was due to release an album called Remember Me? Even that was a reference to how it had been a couple years since his last record. But still, a couple years, not a decade.

So it's an unreleased lost album. From the Biz. Sounds like a perfect candidate for Traffic or one of those labels to resurrect for us, right? Except the popular opinion seems to be that we've heard it, and that Weekend Warrior IS Remember Me? after having spent many years on the shelf.

But just how sure are we of that? I mean, we know from press that Puff Daddy was supposed to be on Remember Me? And he is on Weekend Warrior. So that's probably a carry-over. And it doesn't help that there are essentially two Weekend Warrior albums adding to the confusion. But from what I gather, not all of Remember Me? survived into the 2003 release.

I mean, first of all, there's "Studda Step." "Studda Step" is a wonderful Biz track (it even made it onto his 2000 Greatest Hits album) that came out as a promo only 12" in 1996. Biz kicks nothing but a long succession of really fun old school style lines like, "check out, check out, check out where I'm coming from. I'm long lasting like chewing gum!" And it's all over a traditional beat crafted by Salaam Remi out of Art of Noise's biggest hit "Moments In Love" (a song Biz is also quite well known for having a made a brilliant human beatbox routine out of).

It was really popular, popping up on every mixtape under the sun, appearing on many bootlegs and dubplate compilations, and got the world excited for the return of the Biz just like it was supposed to. Of course, instead of striking while the iron was hot, nothing came out until 2003; but it's worth noting that "Studda Step" isn't on Weekend Warrior. So that's one missing song... not such a travesty, since it got spread around so much anyway; but it just proves if nothing else that Weekend isn't 100% Remember.

Now let's look at a Biz Markie interview from '96 by none other than Cut Chemist, from the August issue of Rap Pages:

"What's up with your album?
It's done. I'm just waiting for Puffy to finish the last track.

How many tracks?

Going to be 14. I did everything myself. I got different people to program for me, to help me out. Like I got Salaam [Remi], Pete Rock, Large Professor, my man Rashad."

So, okay. First note that it was already completed in 1996. Also note Salaam Remi... He produced "Studda Step" but nothing on Weekend, which just further confirms that "Studda" was supposed to be on Remember. And most glaringly of all, there were certainly no Pete Rock or Large Professor tracks on Weekend!

...Of course, that promo version of Weekend with the different tracks doesn't have production credits on it, so in theory they could be on there, possibly. But nothing on that album sounds like their work, does it?

And listen to this Amsterdam radio interview with the Biz from 1998 (it's a whole radio show, you have to skip to the interview bits). They ask him "when is the new album supposed to drop?" And he replies, "I'm startin' the album now. I'm looking for the records now. Now I'm writing, so..." The host jumps in, "and you're gonna do the whole production?" To which Biz answers, "No. Erick Sermon and, uh, Premier." Well, of course, Erick Sermon did appear on Weekend (albeit as an MC, not a producer) and the Premier reference is surely alluding to the 2000 song he did for Biz "And I Rock," which came out in 2000/2001 on Next Level. Perhaps that was meant for the album, but then when the album sat for another three years after "And I Rock" came out, they left it off Weekend because they felt it was too old by then.

Either way, though, the big take away is that Biz had a finished album in 1996, and was just beginning to write an album in 1998. So, okay, a song or two may have carried over; but by and large there have to be two separate albums.

In fact, the same Amsterdam DJs ask him what took so long for him to drop an album (not even suspecting that Weekend was still five more years away!), and Biz answers, "well, Warner Bros was having a fight with Cold Chillin'... and my album got crushed. But this album, this time, I'm coin' out with the right stuff." So yeah, definitely two different albums. Hell, it's actually quite possible that he's talking about yet another lost album that he recorded for Cold Chillin' immediately after All Samples and before Remember.

So how about it? A whole album on the level of "Studda Step" that the world has never heard? Does it exist? And could be yet be delivered to the people? Maybe that's a little optimistic, but I'd love to find out exactly what there is still sitting on the shelves. There's gotta be at least a sweet 'Unreleased EP' or two to be crafted from that stuff.  But it sounds like, if nothing else, there's pretty much an entire Remember Me? just waiting.


  1. I think you should set yourself the challenge of making this happen! Get Biz on the phone, get him to go see the good people at Chopped Herring, Dope Folks, Diggers With Gratitude or Slice-of-Spice and make this happen. I imagine it's as simple as that! Seriously, if anyone can do this; you can, Werner! I, for one, believe in you!

  2. Hi Werner, the Weekend Warrior Album was produced and financed by a German Company called Groove Attack. Well known for over 20 years know, very very important for German HipHop, and was also very very important for US indie HipHop because almost everything was imported to Germany if not pressed in Germany if the demand was high enough.

    The chief of the company was a big fan of Biz, so when the chance came to do this record they did it.
    Now, I only can tell you the rumors I heard, but this record almost finished the company. The first time I heard about the deal was around 2000. Than I only heard about problems. In the end this album was the most expensive album they ever did. And it flopped, so they where in the reds big time.

    The rumors go on that this was the reason why they had to sell 50% of the company.

    1. Damn, that's rough - Groove Attack was a good label. And the worst part is, the bulk of money was probably spent on the worst stuff, a la the Puffy cameo and the other stuff that wasn't as good as the music on the pre-release version.

  3. The follow up to the "All Samples Cleared" album was supposed to come out on Epic (Sony). Plan for Biz was to join labelmates Kool G Rap and Grand Daddy I.U. and stay on the Cold Chillin imprint under the Epic Street moniker. They put out the "Studda Step" 12" as a (secret) white label, knowing that the deal between Warner and Sony wasn´t finalised yet - and unfortunately it didn´t turn out in the end. If you check the "Studda Step" cat number AED 8220 you can identify its an Epic pro number from 1996. The question is: whos holding the master rights to the lost album? Warner, Sony (unlikely) or the Biz himself? May the real Sherlock please stand up...

    1. Ah-ha! Epic! I thought that catalog # was conspicuous, but didn't figure it out.

  4. In regards to a track with Large Professor, there's this - It's Da Biz. I remember it being on a bootleg 12" with MC Lyte on the other side but the video shows it on an MCA promo...

  5. It's Da Biz is from the Flip Squad All-Stars album. Doesn't mean it wasn't originally from the shelved Biz album, but that's how it came out officially.