Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.
This issue we will cover "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie. Released as a single in September of 1989, "Just a Friend" became a huge crossover hit. It would eventually peak at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in March of 1990. It is definitely one of the more memorable rap songs of the decade and (in 2021) it was ranked at #480 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time".
The music video likely helped with the crossover to more mainstream listeners. The video for "Just a Friend" was directed by Lionel C. Martin who directed several rap videos in the late-80s continuing throughout the '90s and beyond also branching out into R&B as well. Martin started off working with Heavy D. and then directed other videos including Big Daddy Kane "Ain't No Half-Steppin'", MC Lyte "Light as a Rock" and Public Enemy "Night of the Living Baseheads" before directing Biz Markie's first rap hit "Vapors" in 1988. In addition to "Just a Friend", he also directed Stop the Violence Movement "Self Destruction", Marley Marl "The Symphony" and 3rd Bass "The Gas Face" among several others to close out the '80s. In the decades to follow, Martin went on to work with Bell Biv Devoe, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, TLC, Wreckx-N-Effect, S.W.V., Toni Braxton, 2Pac, and Backstreet Boys among many others and even directed the 1997 film How to Be a Player.
The music video for "Just a Friend" opens with Biz Markie sitting on a bench making "Yo Mamma" jokes with his boys. After two girls walk by, he raps the story of several unsuccessful relationships. The most memorable part is when Biz Markie sings the purposely off-key chorus dressed as Mozart in 18th-century clothing with a powdered wig while playing the piano. "Oh baby, YOU, you got what I need..." Here is the music video for "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie...
Even though the music video wasn't officially uploaded to YouTube until 2010, it has been viewed over 75 million times! This was partly impacted by Biz Markie's surprising passing at just 57 years old in 2021. Biz is gone, but "Just a Friend" will live on forever.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!