Biz Markie Dies: Groundbreaking ‘Just a Friend’ Rapper was 57

Biz Markie Attends Netflix Event (Credit: Shutterstock)

Biz Markie, a trailblazing beatboxer and rapper known for the classic hits “Just A Friend” and “Vapors,” has died. He was 57.

The New York native passed away Friday, according to his rep Jenni Izumi. “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,” Izumi said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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.”

A cause of death was not given, although Biz Markie battled diabetes for years. Earlier this month, the rapper’s team confirmed he was “under medical care” after reports surfaced saying the hip-hop star was gravely ill.

Following news of the rap legend’s death, tributes began to pour in Friday evening on social media.

“This one hurts baad … RIP to my Aries bro… ahhh man @BizMarkie. damn I’m gonna miss u, so so many memories.. hurts bad. My FRIEND,” tweeted fellow rapper Q-Tip.

Singer-songwriter Bootsy Collins tweeted: “We lost another rap legend Mr. Biz Markie, an American rapper, singer, DJ, record producer, actor, comedian, and writer. He’s best known for his 1989 single ‘Just a Friend’! To a lot of us he was more than Just a Friend. R.I.P. Prayers going out to the family & friends. Bootsy.”

Actress Holly Robinson Peete added on Twitter, “Damn. Damn. Crying. He was a love! Rest In Peace, Biz Markie.”

As previously reported in July 2020, Biz Markie was hospitalized for weeks as he battled an undisclosed illness triggered by his Type 2 diabetes.

The rapper and DJ, real name Marcel Theo Hall, was born in Harlem in 1964. He grew up on Long Island, and began his career in New York City nightclubs. He gained regional recognition on college campuses. His career later blew up when his 1989 single “Just a Friend” became a global hit.

Biz Markie is survived by his wife, extended family members and close friends.