Marcel Theo Hall, known professionally as Biz Markie, an American rapper, singer, DJ, actor, and comedian, passed away Friday at the age of 57.
Markie, who was best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend,” was a beloved cultural figure. He was known for his spirited personality.
His death was confirmed by his manager, Jenni Izumi, who told NPR, “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.
Markie had reportedly been ill for months, but Izumi did not provide an official cause of death, according to NPR.
In April 2020, the rapper was hospitalized due to severe complications from type 2 diabetes. In December 2020, it was reported that he was staying in rehab due to a stroke that he had after going into a diabetic coma.
Although multiple sources claimed he died of diabetic complications, no official cause has yet been given.
Born on April 8, 1964, in Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Harlem, Markie was raised on Long Island. He began his career in New York City nightclubs but later gained regional recognition by performing at colleges in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Markie was best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend.” which became a Top 40 hit in several countries. In 2008, “Just a Friend” made No. 100 on VH1’s list of the 100 greatest hip hop songs of all time.
He has been called the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop.”
Tributes for the rapper poured in on Friday evening. “The one hurts baad,” tweeted Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip. “RIP to my Aries bro … I’m gonna miss u”.
Singer Bootsy Collins wrote, “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.”