“The Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” Biz Markie, has died from diabetes-related complications. He was only 57 years old.
“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” said his manager, Jenni Izumi.
Born Marcel Hall in New York City, Biz began rapping in local clubs when he met hip hop producer Marley Marl in 1985 which led to his working as a human beatbox with artists MC Shan and Roxanne Shanté.
in his spare time, Markie recorded demos and in 1988, he secured a deal with the Cold Chillin’ label to release his debut album, Goin’ Off, which contained the singles “Vapors” and “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz.” The following year, his sophomore LP The Biz Never Sleeps went gold, supported by what would become his biggest hit, “Just A Friend.”
Biz Markie’s sad sack persona was the polar opposite to some of the popular harder core hip hop of the late 1980s but the artist found trouble with a case that helped change the way the rap industry did business when musician Gilbert O’Sullivan sued the rapper over his song “Alone Again” on his 1991 album “I Need a Haircut.” O’Sullivan charged that the rapper’s use of samples from O’Sullivan’s 1972 hit, “Alone Again (Naturally),” amounted to unauthorized use of his music. O’Sullivan won the case which prompted future hip hop artists to clear the use of samples.
“I still was me,” Biz Markie said during a 2008 interview. “It wasn’t a rape case or a gun case. It was a sample.” and the rapper made fun of himself, naming his 1993 album All Samples Cleared! Honing his DJ skills, the rapper expanded his career to include acting, appearing in several films and TV shows, including “Men in Black II,” (with Will Smith), as a narrator on the adult puppet show “Crank Yankers,” and on the children’s series “Yo Gabba Gabba!” with his “Biz’s Beat of the Day.”
Long time friend and fellow rap star, LL Cool J teared up while speaking about his pal’s passing.