Biz Markie

Turning 36 Saturday is Biz Markie, the humorous hip-hopper and friend of the Beastie Boys who had a 1989 hit with "Just a Friend."

Biz Markie, who cuts a rather rotund figure, has often been called the clown prince of rap.

He was born Marcel Hall on April 8, 1964, in Harlem, N.Y. He became a member of Marley Marl's posse and rapped about distasteful subjects such as nose-picking. His fanbase was mostly adolescents.

In 1989, his fame grew because of the hit "Just a Friend" (RealAudio excerpt). In 1991, Markie lost a lawsuit that charged that he unlawfully sampled Gilbert O' Sullivan's 1972 smash "Alone Again (Naturally)." The incident was a wake-up call for all sample-crazy rap artists.

Markie responded with All Samples Cleared! (1993), which featured "Let Me Turn You On" over an authorized sample of McFadden & Whitehead's 1979 hit "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now."

He often raps on stage with the Beastie Boys and appeared with them at last year's Tibetan Freedom Concert in Chicago.

Also last year, Markie appeared in the movie "A Prince of Thieves." Markie often performs on comedian Chris Rock's TV show and records.