Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, and Biz Markie

Let's see if we can get through a discussion of Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick and Biz Markie without using the phrase "old school." These masters from the earliest days of commercial rap each broke boundaries. Fresh brought beat boxing -- that look-Ma-no-hands skill of dropping beats with one's mouth -- with his classic track "The Show." That song also featured Slick Rick, whose singsong storytelling style is both unique and the inspiration for everyone from Biggie Smalls to Snoop Dogg, who famously covered Rick's "Lodi Dodi" on Doggystyle. (Slick Rick also led Snoop in being charged with [attempted] murder, but unlike the Doggfather, Rick served time). And Biz Markie championed the hip-hop novelty song -- and took the bullet for sampling artists everywhere with his lawsuit-inspiring album I Need a Haircut.

None of the trio has released an album worth noticing in some time, but neither have half of the rock bands touring this summer. Go see them to relive your fat-laced dreams of the kinder, gentler, golden age of rap, when MCs earned their stripes on-stage. -- Jordan Harper

Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, and Biz Markie kick it at 11 p.m. Friday, July 9, at the Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-532-1525.

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