Longtime East Coast Rapper Biz Markie Dead at 57
Hip hop legend and New York native Biz Markie has died. Born Marcel Theo Hall in Harlem, New York, he was a rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer whose career spanned 35 years. The beatbox rapper was nicknamed “the clown prince of Hip Hop,” widely known for his playful and amusing lyrics from his 1989 smash “Just a Friend.” He was 57.
Markie had struggled with weight issues early on in his career and later lost 150 pounds in 2014 in an effort to improve his health. He had health issues that go back to 2013 when he was first diagnosed with diabetes. More recently, he was hospitalized in Maryland related to complications from Type II diabetes.
TMZ broke the story of his passing, followed by Biz Markie Inc. CEO Jenni D. Izumi, who confirmed the news Friday night via a statement:
“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. 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. He leaves behind a wife, many family members, and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes, and frequent banter.”
Biz Markie was mourned across social media including Twitter and Facebook. Bootsy Collins tweeted:
We lost another Rap legend Mr. Biz Markie, an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer. He’s best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend”! To a lot of us he was more than Just a Friend. R.I.P. Prayers going out to the family & friends. Bootsy🤩 pic.twitter.com/URnUMKIQdB
— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) July 17, 2021
The loss was felt across all genres of music, including Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea, who also expressed his condolences via Twitter:
“All of my love to the one of a kind bringer of love and joy, the great Biz Markie,” he wrote. “I will bang his records til the day I die and my heart will rejoice. I love you Biz.”
And then there was this from Questlove:
Biz Markie made his mark beyond hip hop, including various roles in television and film. Some of his earliest roles were playing a rapper on “Men in Black II,” “Blackish,” and “The Meteor Man.” Starting in 1994, he made several regular guest appearances on the highly popular comedy show “In Living Color” and later appeared on children’s television program “Yo Gabba Gabba” in 2010. Later, he would go on tour with a live version of the show.