Biz Markie dies at 57

Biz Markie — a rapper known for his quirky hit Just A Friend — died Friday at the age of 57, his manager said.

Biz Markie died Friday evening with his wife next to him, his manager Jenni Izumi told Forbes via email (the news was first reported by TMZ).Izumi didn’t specify a cause of death, but he’s faced a years-long, well-documented struggle with Type 2 diabetes.Two weeks ago, Izumi swatted down rumours that Biz Markie had died, but she told NBC News he was receiving medical care.

“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 told Forbes in a statement. “He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.”

Biz Markie has struggled with Type 2 diabetes for years. He was hospitalized last year due to complications, his manager said, and he told ABC News in 2014 he lost 140 pounds. “If I didn’t make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse,” he said.

Biz Markie — whose real name is Marcel Theo Hall — was born in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem and raised on Long Island. He initially gained renown as a beatboxer, and he’s released five studio albums, but he’s best known for his 1989 hit Just A Friend. The song is widely seen as a jokey, tongue-in-cheek riff, featuring an infectious chorus of off-key singing by Biz Markie, but he told Entertainment Weekly in 2019 it was initially intended to be a sincere, serious track about his dating problems, and that he only sang on the track because he couldn’t line up a singer. Still, the rapper wasn’t offended by fans’ perception of the song that boosted his career: “I was just happy. People look at me as the clown prince of rap anyway,” he told the magazine.

Biz Markie released his last studio album in 2003, but he’s stayed in the public eye. Over the last two decades, he’s appeared in Men In Black II and on the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba — both of which featured his beatboxing skills — and he frequently performed at clubs and in concert, according to his website.

  • Edited and written by Emirhan Tongün.

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