Biz Markie, 55, the “clown prince of hip-hop,” has been rapping, singing and beatboxing professionally since 1985. He lives in Bowie, Md., and has at least 5,800 pairs of shoes, though he gives 500 away every year. He’ll be DJing at the Fillmore Silver Spring on June 15.

You wrote and performed that song that goes “But you say he’s just a friend, but you say he’s just a friend.” And that’s been stuck in the heads of probably about 40 percent of the population of the United States at some point.


Even if they don’t know your name or couldn’t pick you out of a lineup or know anything about you. What’s that like? I mean, are they always singing it to you?

They always sing that to me. Always.

The Internet says you’re worth $3 million.

Nah, that’s the Internet. I’m worth more than that.

How much?

People try to poke at people’s business to see what they worth. I never tell them.

Why don’t more millionaire entertainment moguls live in Bowie, Maryland?

You have a couple of people who live out here, just they don’t let you know they live out here. You got football players, basketball players. A lot of people. People from my team, the Vikings, live in Fairwood and stuff like that. Just me, I don’t care. I want everybody to know I’m here!

As a German American, I’m naturally curious why you created your hip-hop name after Otto von Bismarck, the 19th-century Prussian statesman.

I didn’t even know that. Otto von Bismarck? He don’t spell his name like I do.

No, he doesn’t.

My name, Biz, comes from the first hip-hop tape I heard. It was ’77, ’78, from the L Brothers. Grand Wizard Theodore was the DJ, and the rappers was Kevvy Kev, Master Rob and Busy Bee Starski. I loved Busy Bee. Busy Bee just stuck with me. My name used to be Bizzy B Markie, and after a while I put the Biz with the Markie. My nickname in my neighborhood was Markie.

You were the defendant in one of the first sampling lawsuits when Gilbert O’Sullivan sued you for using a piece of his song “Alone Again (Naturally)” in one of your songs. Do you think Gilbert and Sullivan should be able to sue Gilbert O’Sullivan for sampling their name?

There was somebody else named Gilbert O’Sullivan?

There were two people named Gilbert and Sullivan.

I didn’t know that! I’m learning stuff with you.

You’ve maintained being Biz Markie as a career for decades.

I’m going to be Biz Markie until I die. Even after I die I’m going to be Biz Markie.

And people pay you to do it! You’re on cartoon shows, reality shows, in movies, DJing, on kids’ shows.

I love it. I’m one of them unsung heroes. It’s like, I’m part of hip-hop, but sometimes I’m forgotten about in hip-hop.

Do you think that helps?

It’s beautiful because it means all eyes ain’t on me, so when I do pop up they appreciate everything they see. It’s like the McRib sandwich. It’s like the flowers outside that turn white on the bushes. It comes around when it’s getting ready to be springtime. You appreciate it.

What’s the weirdest thing about your precise level of fame?

The weirdest thing about my fame is that when I’m thinking that it’s almost over it just sparks back up. I made “Just a Friend” in ’89. Some people’s records die — it sprouts up. Now it’s 30 years later and it’s sprouted up again in commercials. They’re not letting me die. The public, the fans, they like me around.

What brought you to Bowie?

I got hot in the Virginia-D.C.-Maryland-Philly college circuit. I would come down to Maryland, Howard, all the colleges, so it didn’t make sense to stay in Jersey.

You told Sadie Dingfelder at Express that you need a big house for your Beanie Babies collection. Is that a real thing?

Not just the Beanie Baby collection! It’s toys, clothes, shoes. I have every Barbie that ever came out. You want to see?

Yes, I do.

I’ve got the Six Million Dollar Man, paralympic Barbie, “Welcome Back, Kotter” dolls, the Fonz action figure, the Munsters. When I wanted this stuff I couldn’t get it. Now I’m a collector.

This interview has been edited and condensed.