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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.

Posted on July 17, 2021, at 3:29 p.m. ET

Biz Markie holding his jacket open to show his thick necklace
David Corio / Redferns via Getty Images

Biz Markie in London in 1988

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.

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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."

I can remember so many times trying to beat box like you until my lips was sore😩& whenever we saw each other your energy was always so full of Life/Love/& Good Vibes💜 Your impact in the culture Is 4EVER🙌🏾 & you will NEVER be Forgotten🕊💜🙏🏾 Rest king @BizMarkie👑

Twitter: @MissyElliott

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."

When I was a teenager we used to sneak out on Monday night to hit the hottest party in NYC. Soul Kitchen taught how let music live in my body. Whenever we saw Biz on the 1s & 2s we were in awe. He was a genius. Rest In Peace and Soul @BizMarkie

Twitter: @kerrywashington

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."

I’m Gonna miss my friend @BizMarkie and his unique comic hip hop genius. I directed this music video for @TheRealKoolGRap in 90, “Erase Racism” that featured @bigdaddykane & BIZ sings the chorus making us smile & think about just how stupid racism really is.

Twitter: @FABNEWYORK

DJ Rhettmatic called Markie, simply, a "hero."

This is heartbreaking. Rest In Peace to the Diabolical One…the one & only @BizMarkie. Thank you for being our hero. I’m very lucky I got to meet you, Dj with you & become friends with you. You will be truly missed big bro. This one hurts. #BizMarkie #TheDiabolicalOne

Twitter: @rhettmatic

"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.

#RIP @BizMarkie! 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! #ripbizmarkie

Twitter: @dannywood

Other hip-hop artists also mourned Markie's death, calling him a "king" and a "legend."

👑 Biz was an amazing human being.He put smiles on millions of faces and was loved by all.A true hip hop Legend.He will be missed but never forgotten. Authentic !!! Original !!! #ripbizmarkie 🕊 🕊🕊 https://t.co/0rTiD9F351

Twitter: @MCHammer

One of my favorite songs @BizMarkie Rest easy king 🖤🖤🖤🖤

Twitter: @Timbaland

This one hurts baad ... RIP to my Aries bro... ahhh man @BizMarkie damn im gonna miss u so so many memories.. hurts bad. My FRIEND

Twitter: @QtipTheAbstract

R.I.P. Legend @BizMarkie ☁️🕊🙏🏿 👑 🌹 #gonebutneverforgotten #ripbizmarkie #fuckdiabetes

Twitter: @E40

Biz markiie past away at 57 first time I saw was appolo theater I was 18 years he was a true Goat

Twitter: @wyclef

Rest in Beats, Brother Biz 🙏🏾🕊 @BizMarkie

Twitter: @PublicEnemyFTP

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.

Since Dec 2020 . Peers #RestInBeats BIZ

Twitter: @MrChuckD

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."

The time @BizMarkie called me because he knew I had a copy of his 45 “Let Me Turn You On” but he broke his copy and couldn’t find another one lol So he wanted to buy mine off me! Haha He said he stepped on his copy, broke it, and cried. But now I cry. Rest In Peace BIZ. #NBTB

Twitter: @Flipout

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 of my favorite scenes from men in black ii was biz markie. literally fascinated me as a kid

Twitter: @laymagdalene

My brother met @BizMarkie in a parking garage in Laurel, MD and asked him to help #SaveTheCrew. This video was the result of that encounter. Rest In Peace kind soul. #Crew96 https://t.co/0hUiRln7yf

Twitter: @kcrognale

One fan thanked Markie for teaching her daughter how to beatbox on the show Yo Gabba Gabba.

Rest In Peace @BizMarkie thank you for teaching my daughter how to beatbox #bizsbeatoftheday

Twitter: @Sheena_Punk

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."

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. get well soon biz mark❤️ 8/8

Twitter: @sahanicyouth

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.