Throwback: Teena Marie-Square Biz


Teena Marie’s “Square Biz” was a combination of her usual soul-quaking vocals with a rap influence. Her 1981 album It Must Be Magic was her fourth and final one for Motown. She had the rare privilege of being a woman artist who wrote and produced her music which she had done previously for her Irons In The Fire album.  She referenced R&B, jazz, poetry and rap in “Square Biz.” Her unmistakable soprano made the innovative decision to rap on the song and she mentioned the poet Nikki Giovanni, a verse from the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and jazz singer Sarah Vaughn. “Square Biz” put Marie into a club of singers who have rapped and sang including Angie Stone, Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu. Commercially speaking, “Square Biz” did better than any of her other songs and helped It Must Be Magic achieve Gold status. The album also received a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. 

Teena Marie left Motown as the most successful solo white artist to have been signed to the label. It Must Be Magic  was remastered and re-released in 2002 with three additional songs. 

Marie’s 14th and final album, Beautiful was posthumously released in 2013. Her daughter Alia Rose finished the recording because Marie passed in 2010 during the process. Teena Marie is regarded as one of the most important artists of the ’80s and one of the few white singers to have mastered R&B.