The year is 1989. Every man since the beginning of time knew the scenario all too well. You're into a girl, you think things are going well, and she's into you too. One way or another you find out there's another guy in the picture. Your spidey sense starts tingling, red flag alerts go up, and you decide to call her out on it.
"Yo, who was that?"
"Oh, he's just a friend"
Whaaaaaaaat. Don't gimme that, don't even gimme that.
Biz Markie took this all too familiar situation and turned it into one of the most popular songs in rap history. Befire "Just A Friend" the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” already had a string of underground hit singles — including “Nobody Beats the Biz” and “Vapors” — when his friend-zone anthem “Just a Friend” hit.
“Just a Friend” would eventually go on to become one of rap’s enduring classics, appearing in television series, commercials, video games, and talk shows. The famous, anthem-level, off-key chorus continues to make people laugh, but what people don't realize, and what the rapper recently told Entertainment Weekly, was that he never intended to sing it himself. Not only that, but the song was based on a true story. Biz Markie has said that “Just a Friend” is based on a real personal experience, but he wanted to censor the name of his past crush in order not to put her in trouble.
I was talking to this girl — the first girl I ever talked to. And every time I would call out to California, a dude would pick up and hand her the phone. I’d be like, “Yo, what’s up [with him]?” She’d say, “Oh, he’s just a friend. He’s nobody.” And I came out there a week early just to surprise her, and she’s tongue kissing somebody — and I caught her! So instead of me fighting, I put the pain into the pen and wrote it out.
The famous hook is sampled from the classic Freddie Scott, "You Got What I Need"
Biz: What happened was I was looking for these Lee Dorsey drums [from “Get Out Of My Life Woman”], and I told T.J. Swan back in ‘86 if I ever found them, I’m going platinum. So in ‘88 when I was doing the album, Grand Wizard Theodore brought me over to Danny Dan [The Music Man]’s house, and he was playing records, and he played the beat. So I traded him a Barbra Streisand record for the drums, and he started playing another 45, [which was] the Freddie Scott. I wasn’t putting them both together, but he played the Freddie Scott. So I gave him $200 for the 45s, even though the 45s were only worth a dollar. When I got to the studio, I had the beat and I was trying to lock up the 45 of Freddie Scott with the drums, but it wouldn’t lock up cause both of them were live. So a dude named Shane Favor, me and him had a keyboard and we stayed up until eight o’clock in the morning to find the right sound of the piano. And when me and him played the [melody] one time, it was over.
Biz used the piano medley and the phrasing of the line, "You got what I need," but changed the subject matter obviously. He also did incorporate those drums he wanted so badly.
Hall of fame song from a classic artist. Rest in peace.