The legendary beatboxing champion, funnyman and who some dubbed as the “clown prince of hip-hop” Biz Markie, has passed away. He was 57 years old.
We first reported on Biz Markie’s health issues over a year ago when he was hospitalized due to complications of his diabetes, but everyone was praying for the Biz. Family and friends quickly dismissed any death rumors just a couple of months ago. But sadly, his death is no rumor, and hip-hop is dealt yet another huge blow.
“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 rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement. “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,” Izumi added. “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 Harlem, N.Y., Markie was raised on Long Island and began his music career performing in night clubs and colleges, eventually finding himself a member of Marley Marl’s legendary Queensbridge collective, the Juice Crew, where he performed as a beatboxer alongside the likes of fellow rappers like Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, Roxanne Shante, and Kool G Rap. Although he didn’t create beatboxing, Markie was one of beatboxing’s most visible pioneers.
Over the course of five albums — most notably 1988’s Goin’ Off and 1989’s The Biz Never Sleeps — the producer-MC developed his own style unlike any other rapper at the time: a mix of half-sung choruses, riveting beatboxing, and silly humor that would earn him the nickname the “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” and pave the way for off-kilter rappers like Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Although deemed one of hip-hop’s biggest one-hit wonders — VH1 placed his 1989 classic “Just a Friend” at Number 81 on its 2000 list of the greatest one-hit wonders of all time–Biz was far from a one-hit wonder. With another classic song like “Vapors”, and fun hits like “Me Versus Me” and the infectious “Spring Again” Biz was a hip-hop fan favorite.
Markie’s debut single, the Marl-produced “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz” in 1986, showcased the “human beatbox” skills that would become a