Biz Markie, Rapper And Beatboxer Behind 'Just A Friend,' Dies At 57

Due to complications with diabetes, the legendary rapper Biz Markie, also known as 'The Clown Prince of Hip Hop' has died

By Ingrid Mateos

Biz Markie

Biz Markie (AP)

Sad news everyone. The legend of New York, Biz Markie died after a long battle with complications of diabetes. He was just 57 years old. Born Marcel Theo Hall, was an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer.

Also known as 'The Clown Prince of Hip Hop', the artist died at a Baltimore hospital according to a statement released by his manager, Jenni Izumi. “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,” Jenni Izumi said in a statement. “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.” his brother, rapper Diamond Shell posted on Facebook “To the baddest in the beats icon legend … my brother BIZ MARKIE… I’LL miss you more than words ….,”

Biz Markie spent his early years in Harlem but moved to Long Island and years later gained notoriety for his beatboxing and rhyming skills. Markie's first hit, "Make the Music With Your Mouth," in 1987, was full beat-boxing, but it was not until 1989 when he was recognized for his talent and his hit 'Just a Friend' which sampled Freddie Scott's "(You) Got What I Need." The song was nominated for an MTV Music Award for best video and reached No. 9 on the Billboard charts. He was also known for his work in film and TV, including “Men in Black II” and Nick Jr’s children’s program “Yo Gabba Gabba” where he would perform “Biz’s Beat of the Day.”

About his artistic name, many years ago, the rapper revealed to the Washington Post the reasons why he chose it and there were some hidden meanings to it. “Biz comes from the first hip-hop tape I heard. It was ’77, ’78, from the L Brothers. Grand Wizard Theodore was the DJ, and the rappers were Kevvy Kev, Master Rob, and Busy Bee Starski. I loved Busy Bee. Busy Bee just stuck with me. My name used to be Bizzy B Markie, and after a while, I put the Biz with the Markie. My nickname in my neighborhood was Markie.”

Markie was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2011, and, a few years later, revealed he had lost 140 pounds in an effort to overcome his illnesses and avoid possible amputations.“I wanted to live,” he told ABC News in 2014. “Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn’t make the changes, it was going to make diabetes worse. I’m trying to get off [the Diabetes meds]. The way you gotta do it is lose the weight. I’m off half my meds, I just got to get off the rest.”

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