Hip-hop legend Biz Markie dies at age 57

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Hip-hop legend Biz Markie, best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend,” has died at age 57.

His rep confirmed his passing in a statement to ABC News Friday.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce, this evening, with his wife Tara by his side, Hip Hop pioneer Biz Markie peacefully passed away,” the statement read. “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.”

“Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years,” the statement continued. “He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter. We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one.”

It was in 2010 that Markie revealed he’d been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. After a 140-pound weight loss, Markie told ABC News in 2014 that he “wanted to live” and that if he “didn’t make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse.”  The rapper was hospitalized in April 2020 due to complications from his diabetes, and the following December it was reported that Markie was staying in a rehabilitation facility after going into a diabetic coma and suffering a stroke. 

Markie’s rep refuted reports in late June, 2021 that Markie had died, saying that his client was “under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible.”

Born Marcel Theo Hall in Harlem, New York, Markie began his music career with the Juice Crew, serving as the group’s beatboxer. Often referred to as ”Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” for his ability to inject humor into his lyrics, Markie gained mainstream attention with the 1989 hit single “Just a Friend,” from his second studio album, The Biz Never Sleeps. Sampled from Freddie Scott‘s “(You) Got What I Need,” the song features Markie both rapping and singing. It became his biggest career hit, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 11 singles chart.

In addition to several studio albums, Markie made numerous guest appearances on songs including the Beastie Boys‘ “Bennie and the Jets” and Will Smith‘s “So Fresh.” He was even sampled by The Rolling Stones for their track “Anybody Seen My Baby?”

Markie also enjoyed a successful acting career, appearing on several episodes of the sketch comedy show In Living Color, portraying a beatboxing alien in Men in Black II, and making several cameos on the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba for his segment “Biz’s Beat of the Day.” Other credits include Sharknado 2, The Meteor Man, and Breath Control.

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