Biz Markie, Hip Hop Artist and Pop Culture Icon, Dies Age 57

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Biz Markie, known for his single “Just a Friend” and for popularizing beatboxing as well as for his TV and film roles, has died after a long illness.

After suffering years of poor health, the iconic rapper Biz Markie has died at the age of 57.

Markie was known for popularizing beatboxing, the art of creating rhythms with hands and mouth to accompany singers and rappers. His music had an eclectic, quirky sound and often contained humorous lyrics, as epitomized by his classic 1989 single “Just a Friend.” A representative of Markie shared the news of his death in a statement, as reported by THR.

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”

Although he built his name on his original music in the 1980s, earning the Joker-esque nickname “the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop,” Markie’s career continued with collaborations with artists like the Beastie Boys and Will Smith. He also took up acting later in his life, appearing in Men in Black II as a beatboxing alien and in Sharknado 2: The Second One. His TV credits include Empire and Black-ish, and the surrealistic children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba! even featured a segment titled “Biz’s Beat of the Day.”

Markie’s health had been declining for years, with a hospitalization due to Type 2 diabetes last year which was reportedly followed by a stroke earlier this year. His representative’s statement recognizes his personal bonds as well as his impact on the culture, saying, “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.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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