Biz Markie: Weekend Warrior

Biz Markie: Weekend Warrior

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Biz Markie

Album: Weekend Warrior
Label: Tommy Boy

Biz Markie hasn't released an album of new material since 1993's All Samples Cleared!, but he nevertheless ranks among rap's most beloved goodwill ambassadors, a goofy-looking master beat-boxer who embodies old-school hip-hop's guileless innocence, jubilant fun, and shameless pop leanings. The 10-year gap between Markie's fourth and fifth albums is longer than most rappers' recording careers, so it's not surprising that Weekend Warrior finds him in a nostalgic mood. Just how nostalgic? On two different tributes to Markie's golden age (the bluntly titled "Throw Back" and "Turn Back The Hands Of Time"), he pines specifically for when Ed Koch was mayor and Ronald Reagan was president. Either Markie–who, like VH1 and numerous C-list celebrities, loves the '80s–is the president of the Koch/Reagan fan club, or he's a pretty sloppy lyricist. An amiable rapper on the less commercially viable side of hip-hop's generation gap, Markie struggles to find the right balance between the old and the new on Weekend Warrior. He's not always successful, but he seldom succumbs to the desperate trend-hopping that made Run DMC's comeback effort, Crown Royal, such an appalling wreck. Which isn't to say that Weekend Warrior doesn't suffer from its share of calculation. In addition to the onslaught of old-school fetishization, the disc nakedly tries to recapture the popularity of "Just A Friend" (Markie's biggest hit, and the song that unfairly earned him the one-hit-wonder label) with a rehash called "Friends." Imbued with an unfashionable and increasingly rare sense of genial innocence, Weekend Warrior isn't likely to secure him many new fans: An album that depends on its audience's built-in affection, it's more concerned with gazing wistfully at the romanticized past than surging into an uncertain future. But with this solid, endearing comeback effort, Markie secures his place as one of rap's most lovable goofballs.