Biz Markie, a rapper best known for his hit “Just a Friend,” has died at the age of 57.
The news was confirmed to Fox News by his rep, Jenni Izumi.
“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,” she said in a statement. “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.”
She continued: “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. 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.”
According to TMZ, the musician died after a long battle with complications brought about by diabetes.
Biz Markie has died at the age of 57. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
The outlet reports that Markie, born Marcel Theo Hall, died in a Baltimore hospital just before 6:30 p.m. local time.
The rapper spent several weeks in a hospital last summer. Reps told the outlet at the time that he was being treated for a serious illness, but not coronavirus.
At the time, it was reported that Markie’s type II diabetes was a trigger for the hospitalization.
His condition at the time was unclear and rumors have run rampant, some indicating that he even fell into a coma, though others suggested that was not the case.
Rumors of his death began to circulate earlier this month, though a rep refuted them to Rolling Stone.
“The news of Biz Markie’s passing is not true,” said the rep then. “Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible.”
Markie was best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend,” which appeared on an EP of the same name. The song became famous in its own right but has since become a popular addition to film and television soundtracks, appearing in the likes of “Empire,” “Friends with Benefits” and more.
Biz Markie in 1988. He was best known for his hit ‘Just a Friend.’ (David Corio/Redferns via Getty Images)
“Just a Friend” was certified platinum in 1990 and was hailed by VH1 as one of the greatest one-hit wonders in 2000 and one of the greatest songs of hip-hop in 2008.
Born in Harlem in 1964, Markie grew up on Long Island before performing as a beatboxer as a member of Marley Marl’s famed Juice Crew.
Markie was hit with a huge lawsuit after the release of his 1991 album “I Need a Haircut” when singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan claimed that the rapper sampled his song “Alone Again (Naturally)” without permission. A judge ruled against Markie.
He appeared in film and television himself a number of times, including as a rapping alien in “Men in Black II” and a man named Vinnie in “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” while also popping up on shows like “Eve,” “Mad” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”