People's Party

Redman Details How Biz Markie Guided Him In New York’s Battle Rap Scene

This week, People’s Party with Talib Kweli is joined by Reggie Noble aka Redman. Arguably one of the most versatile rappers in the history of the art form. Legend status.

Redman has been so consistently relevant in hip-hop, that it is easy to forget that he has been crushing mics and stages since before Whut? Thee Album dropped in 1992. While tons of MCs from the 1990s are MIA (or getting retrospective documentaries made about their careers) he is still making bangers that matter. Redman’s trademark blend of battle-hardened lyrics (sprinkled with cutting-edge humor) and funk-flavored boom-bap production remains unmatched.

At first, you might think it came easy to the ‘Brick City Mashin’ rapper. However, he tells Kweli that his abilities were cultivated directly by mentorship from the legendary Biz Markie who passed away July 16, 2021.

Redman and Biz
Getty Image/Ralph Ordaz

In the video above, Redman shares his history of learning from Biz in the early days of his career. He talks about what it meant to him to learn directly from the diabolical Biz.

“Before I went to EPMD to sign me, I went to Biz Markie,” Red tells Kweli and co-host Jasmin Leigh. “And I asked him to put me on, bro. He was with the Juice Crew at the time. He was like ‘Yo, I don’t got the time right now.” I was like ‘Aight, cool,’ and maintained doing what I had to do [to make it in the industry as an unsigned artist]. But he allowed me to go to his place — where he lived at — to go through records.”

Later, Red shares the remarkable experience of learning his trade at Biz’s house — “Biz Markie lived right in the center of the hood downtown. But he had the dopest, biggest fucking layout!” After EPMD signed Red, Biz invited him to do local tours and battle his way through MCs across all five boroughs in New York.

“He set it up where I was battling people,” Redman says. “It was all through New York Yo, I was air-ing motherfuckers out left and right!”

Once an opponent failed to show up for a battle in Queens, he and Biz decided to just rock the stage. A bootleg of the performance was recorded and the tape caught fire on the streets of NYC. Eventually, rhyme junkies Stretch and Bobbito got hold of the tape and put it in regular rotation on their radio show. With Biz’s mentoring not only was Redman getting paid (which kept him from returning to drug dealing) it gave him the recognition that set his career on a new trajectory to superstardom. my career.”

Listen to Redman, aka your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper on People’s Party with Talib Kweli and Jasmin Leigh.

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