Biz Markie, ‘Just A Friend’ Rapper, Dies At 57

Rap icon Biz Markie has died at the age of 57.

The “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop,” who is best known for his 1989 hit “Just a Friend,” passed away “peacefully” with his wife Tara by his side, his manager Jenni Izumi confirmed in a statement to NBC News.

“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,” the statement read in part.

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

Biz Markie at Kensington High Street, London, UK on 6 April 1988. (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

Biz’s cause of death has not been confirmed. TMZ reports that the musician had been battling “a series of complications from diabetes” for more than a year before his passing.

After a false report of Biz’s death surfaced last month, Izumi set the record straight, confirming at the time that he was alive but “under medical care.”

“The news of Biz Markie’s passing is not true. Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible,” her statement to NBC News began.

“Biz’s wife and family are touched by the outpouring of love and admiration from his friends, peers and fans alike. At this time, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” it continued.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 01: Rapper Biz Markie (L) performs at the Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE! Performance at Madison Square Garden on December 1, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Biz, who was born Marcel Theo Hall, grew up in New York City and gained fame for his rapping and beatboxing in the ‘80s.

In 1989, he released “Just A Friend,” his first single off the album “The Biz Never Sleeps.” The hit song peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and went on to be certified platinum.

Biz went on to dabble in comedy and acting, making appearances in “Men in Black II,” “Black-ish,” “Empire,” “Sharknado 2: The Second One” and more.

Read More