One of Hip-Hop’s pioneers Biz Markie is dead at 57.
Marcel Theo Hall known as Biz Markie was born on April 8, 1964, in Harlem, NY. Biz Markie adopted his stage name when he began his career in New York City as a teenage beatboxer and freestyle rapper. His 1989 hit “Just a Friend” ranked Top 40 in multiple countries and went platinum.
More recently, known for his appearances on dozens of episodes of Nick Jr.’s kids TV series Yo Gabba Gabba! While having classic guest roles on Fox Network’s In Living Color and in the film Men in Black II.
A statement from his rep to PEOPLE on Friday confirmed his death.
“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.”
Biz Markie had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late 40s and said that he lost 140 pounds in the years that followed. “I wanted to live,” he told ABC News in 2014. The cause of death remains unknown, but he was hospitalized last year due to complications from diabetes.
The Harlem born rapper had a 35-year career that touched many. Shortly after the news of his passing broke, multiple tributes of the “Vapors” rapper came pouring in. E40, Questlove, Viola Davis, Missy Elliot, Bootsy Collins and more share their condolences and memories of Biz Markie.
E40 wrote, “R.I.P. Legend @BizMarkie #gonebutneverforgotten #ripbizmarkie #fuckdiabetes”
Q-Tip tweeted, “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.”
Questlove penned a heartfelt tribute on IG, which he shared via Twitter.
“Biz built me man. In my early early stages it was Biz who taught me the REAL places to cop records.”
“He taught me ALOT. Im using ALL the education he taught me,” he continued in the lengthy caption. “We will miss him. But he will be here forever. Love you Biz.”
Academy-Award winning actress, Viola Davis added, “Loved you Biz Markie!! Loved your music!!! RIP.”
Kirk Franklin tweeted, “Oh baby YOU…. You got what I need…..” my childhood jam RIP BIZ.”
A somber Bootsy Collins wrote, “We lost another Rap legend Mr. Biz Markie, an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer. He’s best known for his 1989 single “Just a Friend”! To a lot of us he was more than Just a Friend. R.I.P. Prayers going out to the family & friends. Bootsy. “
Super producer, Alchemist shared the sentiment, “The Diabolical! Man. Biz Markie rest in peace. Not enough words to explain how important he is to all of us.”
Missy Elliot took it to Twitter also, “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.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and our Hip-Hop community. He leaves behind his wife Tara Hall, and many fans. Nobody Beats the BIZ.