From homeless to hip-hop legend

A story of Long Island’s own Biz Markie


A lot of famous stories have been associated with the connotation, “I was once homeless.” Because it makes such a great rag to riches story, “I was once homeless” seems to be an instant emotional, sympathetic, attention-grabber. And then one day its sympathizing readers learn, sometimes that that now famous story, you once felt so sorry hearing/reading, was never truly about being homeless, as much as being in a tough temporary situation. 

I began noticing this trend around 1982. Every time we went out to a party, whether to perform, support a performer, or just to party, Biz Markie would always end up sleeping over somebody’s house. Never really staying with the same person each weekend, I never wondered where he lived, instead assuming that he lived where he was from, in the city.

When he stayed with me, he stayed from the party, until the next party. He slept when we slept. He ate when and what we ate. We would get up, when neither of us had a job, and we would spend the entire week perfecting our craft. Preparing ourselves for the next party.

Never complaining. Never looking for a handout. He was always looking up to, and never looking down on, anyone. But during the early ‘80s, even during the Shonté days, the lineage will show he was homeless. But he never indicated such. And he never gave up on his dream of one day being a hip-hop star.

Manhattan-born, Long Island-raised, Marcel Theo Hall, a.k.a. Biz Markie, today is a world-renowned hip-hop legend, who mastered his craft of rapping right here on the streets of Suffolk County, Long Island. 

Homeless in the early ‘80s. Relentlessly pursuing his dream. By 1989, he became a platinum recording artist with the release of the single, “Just a Friend.”

Today, in honor of Black History Month, we salute Long Island’s own home-grown, Biz Markie.

Like a rolling stone, wherever he laid his now famous, Biz Mark hats, was his temporary home. So many here in Suffolk County, mostly in the Town of Brookhaven, have at least one story of Biz staying the night in our individual homes. During this time, when it wasn’t popular having your parents waking up to your friend who spent the night over, it also wasn’t uncommon seeing him sitting at the kitchen table, eating a big ol’ bowl of cereal.

But when it came to Biz, it was almost natural. It was like wherever he was, he was home. He was family. Parents didn’t care. Siblings didn’t care. And with all the fame, whenever he came around, he remembered and always visited… us here at home.

Raleigh McMillon is a long-time resident of Eastern Long Island with ties to North Bellport and Gordon Heights. Author of “Chicken and Dumplings, A Poor man’s Diary.” Longtime local Tonsorial Artist, He currently resides at Rosemont Brookhaven. 


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