Biz Markie, the influential New York rapper, singer and actor behind the 1989 song “Just a Friend,” passed away in Baltimore on Friday. Hey 57.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce, tonight, with his wife Tara by his side, hip hop pioneer Biz Markie passed away peacefully.” her representative Jenni Izumi said in a statement.
“We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support we have received during this difficult time. Biz created an art legacy that will always be celebrated by his industry peers and 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 banter, and frequent banter. We respectfully request privacy for your family as you mourn your loved one. “
Born Marcel Theo Hall in Harlem, New York, on April 8, 1964, he grew up on Long Island (my old hometown) before returning to the Big Apple to pursue a career in music. After playing many nightclubs and colleges, Markie joined Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, where she performed alongside Roxanne Shanté and MC Shan. Although he was not a pioneer in the art form, Markie was known to be an inspiring beatboxer. He released his debut album, “Goin ‘Off”, on the Cold Chillin’ label in 1988, which included the singles “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz”, “Vapors” and “Nobody Beats the Biz”. His next album, “The Biz Never Sleeps,” produced the catchy tune “Just a Friend,” a classic track if there ever was one.
In 1991, Markie was slapped with a copywriter lawsuit after trying Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” without permission. Ultimately, the judge overseeing the case ruled against Markie, a verdict that put fear of God on hip-hop producers across the board. After the ruling, producers would have to reconsider their sampling approach. It changed everything, including Markie’s career.
In addition to his music career, Markie made several film and television appearances, including the role of the alien rapper in Men in black. He had also contributed to television shows such as In Living Color, Yo Gabba Gabbaand the Comedy Central puppet comedy Crank Yankers. In the animation realm, Markie’s voice can be heard on shows like Sponge Bob Square Pants other Adventure time. Sadly, Markie was in the process of filming Eric Orr’s Chaaw, which highlights stories of victims of Injustice in America. According to the film’s description, the law protects the murderers and traumatizes the families of the murdered victims, causing them to seek the help of a spiritual advisor.
Here at JoBlo we would like to extend our condolences to Mr. Markie’s family, friends and fans. May his legacy live on in those he inspired for years to come.