A couple months ago, the music world was faced with the death of Biz Markie, best known as the creator of perhaps the most feel-good song of all time, “Just A Friend.” Nobody can deliver the track as endearingly as he did, but the tribute to him and the song at this weekend’s Emmy Awards was heartwarming nonetheless.
The show began with host Cedric The Entertainer in a living room set, delivering a monologue about this year’s proceedings. As he starts speaking about friendship, the song’s iconic piano melody kicks in behind him and the pre-taped segment transitions to Cedric live on stage, rapping over the song. LL Cool J then emerges from the audience to rap over the beat before audience members like Mandy Moore, Anthony Anderson, and others sing the legendary hook. Lil Dicky then starts the second verse with lyrics about TV and this year’s nominees before Rita Wilson handles the rest of the verse with a surprisingly adept flow. How enthusiastic everybody in attendance was about the song was perhaps the most touching part of the tribute, as it shows how uncommonly good “Just A Friend” is, and Markie was, at lighting up a room.
Markie’s producer and cousin, DJ Cool V, recently reminisced about recording the song’s hook with the late rapper, saying, “I got him in the booth and he was singing, and even though it might not be perfectly correct to anybody else, the feeling of it was good. He had his fist balled up and he was really trying. He was really, really crooning, and I said, ‘That’s it.’ And he had one take. Then he had another take that was not as good as the first one. So I took the first one and put it with the next one. So it’s the same one, twice. He did both of them and he did them very well and maximized it too. He did it as best he could do it — and it was good enough for me.”
Check out the Emmy tribute to Markie above.