LOS ANGELES (AP/CBS SF) — Biz Markie, a “golden era” hip-hop great known for his beatboxing prowess, turntable mastery, production genius and the 1989 classic “Just a Friend,” has died. He was 57.
Markie’s representative, Jenni Izumi, said the rapper-DJ died peacefully Friday evening with his wife by his side. The cause of death has not been released.READ MORE: VIDEO: Wind-Whipped Dixie Fire Ignites Homes In Greenville; Fire Crews 'Going Into Life Threat Mode'
“We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time,” Izumi said in a statement. “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.”
Markie, who birth name was Marcel Theo Hall, became known within the rap genre realm as the self-proclaimed “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” for lighthearted lyrics and a humorous nature. He made music with the Beastie Boys, opened for Chris Rock’s comedy tour and was a sought-after DJ for countless star-studded events.
Markie was renowned for his massive record collection containing many one-of-a-kind rarities. The prolific collector reportedly amassed so much vintage vinyl that he rented a house specifically to store the tens of thousands of records he owned.
The New York-native’s music career began in 1985 as a beat boxer of the Juice Crew, a rap collective he helped Big Daddy Kane join. Three years later, he released his debut album “Goin’ Off,” which featured underground hits “Vapors” and “Pickin’ Boogers.”READ MORE: PG&E Stock Dip Impacting Fortunes of Past Wildfire Victims
Markie broke into mainstream music with his platinum-selling song “Just a Friend,” the lead single on his sophomore album “The Biz Never Sleeps.” The friend-zone anthem cracked Rolling Stone’s top 100 pop songs and made VH1’s list of 100 greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
Markie was also at the center of a landmark copywrite lawsuit that would change the face of hip hop and sample use. His third studio album, 1991’s I Need a Haircut on Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records, featured the song “Alone Again,” which was built around an unauthorized sample of the Gilbert O’Sullivan easy-listening hit “Alone Again (Naturally).”
O’Sullivan filed a copywrite infringement lawsuit and his claim was upheld in court, forever altering the landscape of hip-hop. The case served as a precedent that required all samples be cleared with the original artist before being used, ending the freewheeling era of hip-hop sampling that had shaped the music for over a decade.
Markie, who released five total studio albums, consistently booked more than 175 shows a year, according to the rapper’s website. He’s appeared on television shows including “In Living Color” and the 2002 movie “Men in Black II,” which had him playing an alien parody of himself in the film starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Markie also taught the method of beatboxing in an episode of the children’s show “Yo Gabba Gabba!”
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