Friends And Fans Celebrated Biz Markie, The "Clown Prince Of Hip-Hop," After His Death At 57
Markie was best known for his hit single "Just a Friend" and had cameos in the movie Men in Black II and the TV show SpongeBob SquarePants.
The death of legendary rapper and "Clown Prince of Hip-Hop" Biz Markie on Friday was met with an outpouring of gratitude and admiration from fans and fellow artists alike.
"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 manager, Jenni Izumi, said in a Friday statement provided to BuzzFeed News. "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."
The cause of death was not immediately made public. However, Markie, 57, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late forties and was hospitalized last year for an extended period due to complications related to the disease, according to TMZ.
Markie — whose given name was Marcel Theo Hall — was born in Harlem and was known for his beatboxing and goofy persona.
He was most famous for his 1989 platinum single, "Just a Friend," and later made well-received cameos in the movie Men in Black II and as Kenny the Cat in the TV show SpongeBob SquarePants. He also appeared on the children's show Yo Gabba Gabba, where he taught kids to beatbox.
While he never again had a hit that reached the same popularity as "Just a Friend," he was a friend of many other artists, including Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, and Questlove, and collaborated with some of them.
On Friday, friends and fans shared remembrances and favorite clips of Markie performing on social media.
In a tearful video posted on Instagram, LL Cool J said he remembered "running around Queens and Long Island" with Markie when the two were younger, and being with Markie in his grandmother's basement when he wrote the song "Rock the Bells."
"I'm glad we got to do what we got to do towards the end. ... Love you, man, peace," said LL Cool J.
Musician Questlove also shared an emotional post on Instagram, writing about everything he had learned from Markie. He also recalled Markie DJ'ing at a White House Correspondents' Association dinner and lighting up the room.
"Biz built me man," wrote Questlove. "This cat was one in a million. I'll never forget my first time at #NerdProm during O's first term and Biz was the dj & i asked him 'what's the Wobble'——BIZ loved getting you if you weren't up on something——'AYE VAUGHN he don't know The Wobble!!!' ....he plays it & I never seen a black song transform an entire room of suits—the press/White House staff/even Rachel Maddow ran from behind the bar (she was serving drinks) & got down."
Artists like Missy Elliott also mourned Markie's death and talked about his impact.
"I can remember so many times trying to beat box like you until my lips was sore," wrote Elliott. "Your impact in the culture Is 4EVER."
Actor Kerry Washington credited Markie's music with teaching her how to "let music live in [her] body."
"We were in awe," Washington wrote. "He was a genius."
Artist Fab 5 Freddy celebrated Markie's "unique comic hip hop genius" and shared a clip from Kool G Rap's music video for "Erase Racism," saying Markie's lyrics made people "smile & think about just how stupid racism really is."
DJ Rhettmatic called Markie, simply, a "hero."
"I grew up breakdancing to your music and it was an honor to share the stage with you! A true innovator in the music business!" wrote New Kids on the Block singer Danny Wood.
Other hip-hop artists also mourned Markie's death, calling him a "king" and a "legend."
Public Enemy leader Chuck D also shared his own post mourning several hip-hop artists who he noted had died recently, including DMX, MF Doom, Gift of Gab, and now Markie.
DJ Flipout also shared a recording of a call with Markie, in which the rapper called after breaking a copy of his 45 record of "Let Me Turn You On," and wanted to buy Flipout's to replace it.
"He said he stepped on his copy, broke it, and cried," wrote Flipout. "But now I cry. Rest in Peace BIZ."
Fans also shared their favorite clips of Markie, including his iconic performance in Men in Black II, and some from chance encounters where Markie improvised on the spot.
One fan thanked Markie for teaching her daughter how to beatbox on the show Yo Gabba Gabba.
And in a tweet thread days before Markie's death, musician and music writer Sahan Jayasuriya requested that people send positive energy to the rapper, who he said was going through health issues.
Jayasuriya wrote a long thread about Markie's contributions and said, "the world fell in love with biz from the moment he arrived, and really embraced him for the person that he is, cause nobody beats him."