Biz Markie, a hip hop legend known for his beatboxing skills, turntable mastery, and 1989 hit “Just a Friend,” died. He was 57.
Jenni Izumi (Markie’s representative) said that the rapper-DJ passed away peacefully on Friday night with his wife beside him. The cause of his death is not yet known.
Izumi released a statement saying that he was grateful for all the support and prayers he received through this difficult time. “Biz left a legacy of artistry which will be remembered by his peers in the industry and his fans, whose lives he touched through music over 35 years.” His wife, his many close family and friends, as well as his infectious personality and jokes, will be missing him.
Marcel Theo Hall was Markie’s birth name. He became well-known in the rap world as the “Clown Prince” of Hip-Hop for his humorous lyrics and lighthearted nature. He was a popular DJ at many star-studded events, including opening for Chris Rock’s comedy tour.
The New York native’s music career started in 1985 when he was a beatboxer for the Juice Crew, a rap group he helped Big Daddy Kane start. He released his debut album, “Goin’ Off”, three years later. It featured underground hits like “Vapors” and “Pickin’ Boogers”.
Markie made mainstream music with “Just a Friend,” his platinum-selling single. The song was the lead single from his sophomore album, “The Biz Never Sleeps.” VH1 also included it on its 100 best hip-hop songs list.
“This one hurts bad…RIP to my Aries bro …” Qip of A Tribe Called Quest ” was the sentiment expressed on Twitter. A flood of grief was building for Markie, and “ahhh man @BizMarkie damn, i’m gonna miss you so much memories.”
Questlove stated that Markie taught him a lot early in his career.
Questlove shared and a photo of Markie on Instagram. “Biz was the one who showed me in my early years where I could find cop records ….Biz showed me where to find 45s ……Biz showed me where to get 8TRACK TAPES!” “
Markie received a copyright infringement suit in 1991 for a song on his third studio record, “I Need a Haircut”. Gilbert O’Sullivan, an Irish singer, sued Markie and Warner Bros Records. O’Sullivan claimed that Markie’s album “Alone Again” used elements from his 1972 hit, “Alone Again (Naturally).”
The judge ordered that the album be reissued with the legal track and halted further distribution. This judgment changed the landscape in music sampling, stating that they had to be preapproved by their original owners.
Markie’s fourth album, “All Samples Cleared!” was released in 1993. It was a reference to the court battle. A decade later, he released “Weekend Warrior”, his last album.
According to Markie’s website, Markie maintained his relevance by booking more than 175 shows per year. He has appeared on TV shows such as “In Living Color,” and “Empire”, along with “blackish” and 2002’s “Men in Black II,” in that he was an alien parody of his self in the film starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones.
In an episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” Markie also taught beatboxing to children!
Bootsy Collins, Parliament-Funkadelic bassist, tweeted that “We lost another Rap legend Mister Biz Markie.” “He was more than just a friend to many of us,” said Bootsy Collins.