*Hip-hop icon Biz Markie, best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend,” has died, his manager confirmed in a statement. He was 57.
“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 said.
“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 added. “He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.”
Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) had a history of health issues.
An earlier report noted that he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010. He told the New York Daily News in 2013 that he had lost more than 140 pounds.
“They be seein’ me, I lost the weight, and I didn’t have to use lap band surgery or whatever,” he said. “They see that I did it, and they know I was the greedy, greasy person. So if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
“I wanted to live,” Markie told ABC News in 2014. “Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn’t make the changes, it was going to make the 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 … [The doctors] said I could lose my feet. They said I could lose body parts. A lot of things could happen.”
Markie was born in Harlem in 1964. He grew up on Long Island, and began his career in New York City nightclubs. The rapper and DJ gained regional recognition by performing on college campuses.
“Just a Friend” rapper Biz Markie has passed away at age 57 from complications with his battle with diabetes. In his memory, we’re throwing it back to 1990 when he spoke with us about getting his start in music and his style. You will be missed, Biz ❤️ pic.twitter.com/aVy3y9s70h
— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) July 17, 2021
Often called the “clown prince of hip hop,” the rapper once explained that his nickname was inspired by the first hip-hop tape he heard as a boy, as reported by CBS.
“It was ’77, ’78, from the L Brothers. Grand Wizard Theodore was the DJ, and the rappers was Kevvy Kev, Master Rob and Busy Bee Starski. I loved Busy Bee. Busy Bee just stuck with me,” he told The Washington Post in 2019. “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 moved to Maryland after gaining fame on the college circuit in the Washington, D.C., area.
“The weirdest thing about my fame is that when I’m thinking that it’s almost over it just sparks back up,” he told the Post. “I made ‘Just a Friend’ in ’89. Some people’s records die — it sprouts up. Now it’s 30 years later and it’s sprouted up again in commercials. They’re not letting me die. The public, the fans, they like me around.”
“I’m going to be Biz Markie until I die,” he said. “Even after I die I’m going to be Biz Markie.”