To Patchogue, Brentwood and everywhere he touched on Long Island, Biz Markie was more than just a friend.
The internationally known rapper, spent his formative years on Long Island by his given name, Marcel Theo Hall, and learned the craft of beatboxing on the competitive hip-hop and DJ circuit.
He was memorialized Saturday across the street from his teenage home in Patchogue as friends, family and local officials dedicated the intersection of West Avenue and South Street as Biz Markie Way.
His wife, Tara Lynn Hall, unveiled the sign authorized by Patchogue village officials to remember their hometown son. Hall was also given a humanitarian award for her work maintaining Markie’s legacy and his foundation.
"We miss Biz so much, as all of you do," Hall said, standing with her 12-year-old daughter, Averi, as she wiped away tears.
Markie, who recorded the platinum-selling 1989 single "Just a Friend," died July 16 at age 57.
Hall and Markie lived in Maryland, but every time Markie traveled or went on tour he said he had to stop on Long Island to visit his home.
"No matter where he came from, he came here to feel love, to show love and to give love," Hall said. "He loved Patchogue and he loved Long Island. It was in his heart until the day he died."
The street dedication included performances by a flutist, beatboxers and DJs as a tribute to Markie.
Archie Snowden, 57, said he grew up with Markie in Brentwood when he was known as Marcel. Snowden met him when he moved to the neighborhood at the corner of Grand Boulevard and Noble Street and rode the bus to East Middle School.
In the early days of rap, cassettes of DJing and rap from Harlem and the Bronx were reaching Long Island, Snowden said. He said Markie wasn’t good at first at rhymes and DJing until he first heard the evolving hip-hop.
"After that, his mouth was open the next two years. He started making music with his mouth and these sounds with his mouth we didn’t know where they came from," Snowden said. "He was beatboxing and he loved it so much he became good at what he did. He developed his skills in Brentwood and then became a star in Patchogue."
His close friend Julius Nelson Jr. said he only knew him as Biz as he fed his addiction to music. He spent his days looking through vinyl records and spending every weekend at a local bar with two turntables and a mixer.
"Patchogue matured him where he transformed from a boy to a man and it re-energized him. You can’t tell the story of rap without mentioning the name Biz Markie," Nelson said. "Patchogue couldn’t find a better role model."
He pointed to the sky and said, "Biz, you were right, they named a street after you."