It’s with great sadness to announce that Biz Markie has passed away tonight (July 16).
A pioneering rapper, producer, and beatboxer, Biz — née Marcel Theo Hall — transitioned at the age of 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,” his rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement. “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 continued. “He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter. We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one.”
It is assumed that Markie passed due to complications from a decade-long battle with Type 2 diabetes. That battle, erroneously, led to premature reports of his death in late June.
Biz was a member of the collective The Juice Crew, which also included the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, and Kool G Rap. Lovingly referred to as the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” Markie scored a Top 40 hit with “Just A Friend” in 1989.
Biz was also notable for being the rapper who forever altered the soundscape of hip hop, following a successful lawsuit from Gilbert O’Sullivan alleging that Markie’s 1991 track “Alone Again” featured an unauthorized sample from his own song “Alone Again (Naturally).” Following the lawsuit, all samples must now be cleared with the original artist before being used.