Rapper Biz Markie, best known for his hit song “Just A Friend,” died at age 57. A statement from his family confirmed his death on Friday, July 16, writing:
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. 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. 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.
Born Marcel Theo Hall on April 8, 1964 in New York City, he was raised on Long Island. After assuming the stage name Biz Markie, the talented beatboxer released his debut album, Goin’ Off, in 1986. Markie’s sophomore album, The Biz Never Sleeps, was issued in 1989 and featured the Top 10 hit single, “Just A Friend,” which became the rapper’s most popular song and an iconic hip hop anthem.
His next album, 1991’s I Need a Haircut, resulted in a lawsuit over an unauthorized sample of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1972 song, “Alone Again (Naturally),” that resulted in an injunction and an industry-wide change to how samples were used in hip hop. The title of Markie’s follow-up album referenced the lawsuit with the release of All Samples Cleared! in 1993. Markie’s fifth and final album was 2003’s Weekend Warrior.
In addition to his music career, Markie also made several television and film appearances. Among his credits include the sketch comedy TV program In Living Color and the feature film Men In Black II, as well as voiceover work on Spongebob Squarepants and other shows.