Biz Markie sadly passed away at 57-years-old on Friday, July 16. His manager confirmed the news with the following statement obtained by HollywoodLife: “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. We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.”
His manager continued, “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.”
A cause of death was not revealed at this time, but the rapper is best-known for his single, “Just a Friend.” He also dabbled in acting, appearing in a variety of TV shows and commercials throughout his career. Biz is survived by his wife Tara Davis.
The rapper’s death comes after rumors circulated on social media that Biz had died on Wednesday June 30. Biz’s manager gave fans an update on the rapper’s latest health issues. “Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best health care possible,” he said in a statement to Pitchfork. He added that the rapper’s family was “touched by the outpouring of love and admiration from his friends, peers and fans alike.” In recent years, Biz faced health issues. The rapper suffered a stroke in December 2020 after a diabetic episode, according to Hip Hop DX.
The rapper’s death marks the end of a career that’s lasted over 30 years. Biz was born Marcel Theo Hall on April 8, 1964 in Harlem. After growing up on Long Island, Biz pursued a music career during the 1980s. is debut album Goin’ Off dropped in 1988, but the single “Just A Friend” from his second record The Biz Never Sleeps launched him into stardom. “Just A Friend” is still Biz’s best-known song. The track peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at number 9 in 1990, and it was certified platinum that same year. Biz was also nicknamed the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” according to MTV.
Unfortunately, legal trouble followed Biz with his next album. He was sued by songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan over an uncleared sample of his single “Alone Again” on Biz’s song of the same name on his 1991 album I Need A Haircut, according to NPR. Despite the legal problems, Biz poked fun at the lawsuit with his next album’s title All Samples Cleared (1993).
After the 90s, Biz only released one more studio album of his own, 2003’s Weekend Warrior. Even though he wasn’t releasing new music as often as he used, the rapper kept busy, appearing in a variety of acting and voice acting roles, including Men In Black II, Spongebob Squarepants, Empire, and more. In February 2020, he also hosted his own SiriusXM show on LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Radio station.
Throughout his career, Biz has also lent his talent to other musicians, performing on others’ tracks. Throughout the 90s, he collaborated with The Beastie Boys on a number of occasions. He had a guest appearance on Will Smith’s 1999 album Willenium. Later in his career, Biz appeared on The Flaming Lips’ song “2012” alongside Kesha, and he also performed on electronic group The Avalanches’ 2016 song “The Noisy Eater.”