Biz Markie, the ‘Clown Prince of Hip-Hop,’ died Friday at the age of 57. The pioneering rapper, whose real name was Marcel Hall, was known for his jovial goofiness behind the mic; Biz Markie’s style with beatboxing, innovative samples, and production style propelled him to Hip-Hop superstardom in the late 1980s.
“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,” his rep 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,” Izumi added. “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.”
A cause of death was not revealed but the rapper had been struggling in recent years with health complications related to Markie being a Type-2 diabetic. Biz was hospitalized in April 2020 due to issues related to the chronic health condition. Later that year, he would suffer a stroke after falling into a diabetic coma. Although Markie was rehabilitating, his health continued to decline, leading to premature reports of his death in late June 2021.
Biz Markie released five studio albums during his career debuting with Goin’ Off in 1988. Goin’ Off would peak at #90 on the Billboard 200 and #19 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and would go on to further success in the 1989 follow-up, The Biz Never Sleeps. Biz Markie would rise to hip-hip greatness following the release of the certified platinum single, Just A Friend. The song is Markie’s most successful single, reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990.
Markie’s music career lasted until 2003, but he would go on to remain a mainstay in the entertainment industry thanks to his appearances on comedy series (In Living Color, Crank Yankers, Wild’n Out), children’s shows (SpongeBob SquarePants and Yo Gabba Gabba, where Markie was also a member of the touring unit); he also appeared “as himself” with a few cameos (Black-ish, Empire, Hip-Hop Squares) and countless VH1 “I Love the …” specials.
Source: Rolling Stone
Image Credits: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images