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Biz Markie
Biz Markie (1964-2021) - Baltimore's "Clown Prince" of rap, Aged 57 / Stroke (Shutterstock)

Rapper, Actor Biz Markie Dead At 57

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BALTIMORE (CelebrityAccess) — Rapper, recording artist, actor, and record producer Biz Markie, who scored a hit in 1989 with ‘Just a Friend’ died on July 16th. He was 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 representative said in a statement provided to the New York Times. “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.”

A cause of death was not disclosed, but TMZ reported that he was suffering from complications of type 2 diabetes.

Born in New York and raised on Long Island as Marcel Theo Hall, Markie first made a name for himself performing in nightclubs in New York and later at local colleges in the region.

He released his debut album Goin’ Off on Cold Chillin’ Records in 1988 and scored underground hits including “Nobody Beats The Biz” and “Vapors.”

He followed it up in 1989 with The Biz Never Sleeps via Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records, which contained his most notable single, “Just a Friend” which peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200.

However, his third studio album, 1991’s I Need a Haircut, found less traction with fans and generated legal trouble for both Markie and the recording industry over his use of unlicensed samples.

The resulting litigation, Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., changed the hip-hop industry requiring samples to be pre-approved before use.

Markie poked fun at himself with the release of his 1993 album, All Samples Cleared, but the album was not a commercial success and proved to be his last to be distributed by Warner.

A decade would go by before Markie released his final studio album, Weekend Warrior via Tommy Boy Entertainment in 2003. The album, which featured contributions from artists such as DJ Jazzy Jeff, P. Diddy and Elephant Man drew a mixed response from critics and did not resonate with mainstream audiences.

More recently, Markie pursued celebrity appearances, including television commercials, and acting, with roles that included rapping alien in Men in Black II, with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and providing the voice for a beatboxing slug in the Carton Network’s surrealist animated show Adventure Time.

Biz Markie is survived by his wife Tara Hall and his children. The two were married for 15 years. No memorial plans have been announced.

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