wax Poetics

Biz Markie

“Let Me Turn You On”

Released 1993
record label Cold Chillin’
Written by Mark McCord

Let Me Turn You on
Let Me Turn You on

At the end of his recording career, Biz Markie wanted to pay homage to DJ Hollywood, seminal MC. Biz was transitioning into becoming a DJ. His final effort for Cold Chillin’ was “Let Me Turn You On,” a song with a confusing past.

Disco Fever in the Bronx was the hottest hip-hop spot of its era. Friday and Saturday nights featured the late Jose Olmeda, aka Junebug, on the mix with club manager and host George “Sweet G” Godfrey on the mic. The pair had many routines together, among them a crowd favorite they called “I’m the Type of Guy,” which Sweet G sang over Jocko Henderson’s “Rhythm Talk,” a proto-rap song recorded over McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”

“I’m the type of guy that could really turn you on,” Godfrey smoothly croons in his kitchen, as we spoke recently. “Give you so much lovin’ and keep you warm. Don’t stop the way I’m feelin’ just keep on turning me on and I swear to you baby, I’ll love you all night long.”

To those who know Biz’s “Let Me Turn You On,” it sounds very familiar.

That’s because, according to Godfrey, DJ Hollywood sold the song's publishing rights to Biz Markie in 1994 without his permission. Confused? It gets better.

Everybody loved hearing Sweet G sing “I’m the Type of Guy” at the Fever—especially DJ Hollywood, who bit it like a pitbull and added a twist to it. “See, he did one part of the song and I did the other part,” Hollywood told me in a phone interview. 

“My part went: “Well, there ain’t no way to stop me now. C’mon! Somebody say well! Oh well! Well-ell-ell-ell-ell-ell-ell.” And then he added the crowd participation piece: “Let me, let me, let me, let me turn you on, ooh!”

Because his tapes were bootlegged to death on the streets, most people knew Hollywood as the song’s originator. He did it everywhere he went: Club 371, the Rooftop, Broadway International and Harlem World. For over thirty years he has called it his song. Sweet G disputes that, “Hell no, that’s my damn song and Hollywood knows it!” Neither Sweet G nor Hollywood ever recorded the song on wax. But more importantly: neither of them ever copyrighted it.

In 1994, down and out and just out of rehab, the one-time King of Rap, who once made somewhere near two-hundred-and-fifty grand a year rocking parties all over the city, was dead broke. Biz, who had been enjoying a successful run as a singer of sorts, offered Hollywood $1500 to sell him the publishing rights to his street classic. ’Wood couldn’t pass it up. Biz probably didn’t know the songs origins and ’Wood wasn’t volunteering any information. A deal was made. At the song's intro, Biz gave the Godfather of Rap a fat shout out: “This is for DJ Hollywood cuz he was one of the first ones out there…”

Sweet G still curses whenever he thinks of the record.