New York rapper, beatboxer, and producer, Marcel Theo Hall professionally known
as Biz Markie, has died at age 57.
Markie’s representative, Jenni Izumi, said the rapper and DJ died peacefully Friday
evening with his wife by his side. The cause of death has not been released
Biz Markie had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late 40s and said that he
lost 140 pounds in the years that followed.
“I wanted to live,” he told ABC News in 2014. A native New Yorker and an early
collaborator with hip-hop trailblazers like Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, and Big
Daddy Kane, Biz Markie began as a teenage beatboxer and freestyle rapper.
He eventually made a name for himself as the resident court jester of the
Queensbridge-based collective the Juice Crew and its Cold
Chillin’ label, under the tutelage of the influential radio D.J. Mr. Magic.
On “Goin’ Off” (1988), his debut album, Biz Markie introduced himself as a bumbling
upstart with a juvenile sense of humor — the opening track, “Pickin’ Boogers,” was
about exactly that — but his charm and his skills were undeniable, making him a
plausible sell to an increasingly rap-curious crossover audience.
Tributes for the rapper poured in on Friday evening.
“The one hurts baad”, tweeted Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip. “RIP to my Aries
bro I’m gonna miss u”.
“We lost another Rap legend”, tweeted musician Bootsy Collins, while Red Hot Chili
Peppers bassist Flea wrote: “All of my love to the one of a kind bringer of love and joy,
the great Biz Markie. I will bang his records til the day I die”.