He seemed poised for ever-increasing success when he released his 1991 album I Need a Haircut. In fact, the disc received generally good reviews– Hip-Hop Connection praised it as “dope,” while Black Radio Exclusive called it “super-hype,” adding, “All Markie fans will love this one”–and surged initially on the strength of the popular “What Goes Around Comes Around” and the bathroom serenade “T.S.R. (Toilet Stool Rap).”
But a musical snippet, or sample, that appeared on the cut “Alone Again” was borrowed from a 1972 pop hit of the same title by British vocalist Gilbert O’Sullivan and was used without O’Sullivan’s permission. A lawsuit followed–the litigation monitored closely by the music business as it was the first to address the legality of the widespread practice of sampling–and Biz Markie lost; federal judge Kevin Duffy ordered sales of I Need a Haircut stopped. Attorney Lawrence A. Stanley, analyzing the case for the Source, opined that Markie’s legal team “failed to launch an even remotely credible defense.” In any event, the rapper received more mainstream publicity for this setback than for any of his previous successes. He was especially dismayed by O’Sullivan’s suit because, as he told the Source, “I loved that song since I was a little kid.” Read more about Biz Markie here.