More Than Just a Friend: Our Review of ‘All Up in The Biz’

Posted in Movies, TV, What's Streaming? by - August 12, 2023
More Than Just a Friend: Our Review of ‘All Up in The Biz’

Showtime’s documentary on the life and times of the great Biz Markie is more than just a story of one man. I, it’s also of all the people he helped and touched along the way. Back in the 80s, as Hip Hop was still evolving, Biz was among the first to see that it was all about building a community, supporting and uplifting others. He would travel all across Long Island living a near nomadic lifestyle, walking into clubs and schools where had never been like he owned the place and quickly developing relationships. along the way.

Eventually, those relationships would lead to the formation of the Juice Crew, which was basically the Wu-Tang Clan before Wu-Tang existed. Using Marley Marl’s production skills, the crew would launch Cold Chillin’ Records and included other legendary artists like Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G, and Masta Ace, all of whom appear in the doc. In fact, the doc gives us a lot of dignitaries of early hip hop, as a lot of them were related to Biz in some way, with Doug E. Fresh, Rakim, Fat Joe, DMC, and more telling their stories along with longtime friend and comedian Tracy Morgan. Master Ace even addresses the long-time beef over his single “Me and The Biz”.

But the part that sets this doc apart from other docs of the like are the reenactments showing the year-long, hospital-ridden battle that Biz started during the beginningbeing of COVID-19 in 2020. Unable to see his friends due to Covid restrictions, only his wife Tara Davis was able to see him every day. Using a ‘Muppified’ puppet of Biz, Tara herself reenacts some of their daily life in the hospital and the trials along the way. The use of the puppet keeps the tone lighter than it normally would based on the subject matter. B, but I’m sure the ‘Clown Prince of Hip Hop’ wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It becomes blatantly obvious early on during the doc that this is more of a love letter to Biz than something looking for objectivity, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Director Sacha Jenkins, who also directed the excellent Wu-Tang: Of Mics and Men series clearly knows and has a lot of love for this subject matter. And Tara’s fingerprints are all over this film as well. But the strongest thing I can say about All Up In The Biz is that this is a film from which almost every person can watch and learn something. From the most knowledgeable hHip hHop scholar to the pure novice, there is something here for everyone to discover. Even someone like myself, who lived through the hip-hop explosion of the 80s, spent hard-earned money on albums and cassettes and has watched countless films and documentaries based on the era, had plenty to learn.

This love letter tothe the late, great Biz Markie is moving, hilarious, and it just makes you feel warm watching it. We, the world, lost this man way too soon, but much like this documentary, we should rejoice in the fact that we had him to begin with. And we should all be glad we can still get All Up in the Biz.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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