Marcel Theo Hall, better known to most as rapper Biz Markie, has died. The "Just a Friend" singer was 57. Per TMZ, he'd been suffering complications from diabetes. “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time,” Markie's rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement obtained by the AP. “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." Markie had been seriously ill since at least last summer, when TMZ reported he'd checked into a physical rehab facility. In April, his friend and fellow rapper Big Daddy Kane told The Breakfast Club that Markie's condition was improving amid rumors he'd slipped into a coma.
Markie died Friday in Baltimore as his wife, Tara Hall, held his hand. The Harlem-born musician's career began with his 1985 beatboxing gig for the rap collective Juice Crew. Three years later, he released his debut album “Goin’ Off,” which featured underground hits “Vapors” and “Pickin’ Boogers.” His biggest hit would come in 1989 when Markie broke into the mainstream with his platinum-selling song “Just a Friend,” the lead single on his sophomore album. The friend-zone anthem cracked Rolling Stone’s top 100 pop songs and made VH1’s list of 100 greatest hip-hop songs of all time. Over the course of his career as the self-styled "Clown Prince of HipHop," Markie became friends and performed with a string of music legends, many of whom mourned his passing on social media, including Questlove
, Bootsy Collins
, and others.
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