Biz Markie Dead at 57
Biz Markie, the self-proclaimed "Human Beatbox" and renowned rapper known for his 1989 hit song, "Just a Friend," has died at 57.
According to TMZ on Friday (July 16), Biz Markie passed away at a hospital in Baltimore at 6:25 p.m. today. A source confirmed the New York-bred rapper's death. His wife, Tara Hall, was beside Biz, born Marcel Hall, when he passed, reportedly holding his hand during his last moments. Nursing staff were also present with him and his family.
He reportedly died due to complications from diabetes.
Tara confirmed her husband's passing in a post on Instagram. "A GOOD heart stopped beating this evening… and I was there for the last one….Biz Fought till the end, like the true legend he is. Biz passed his strength to me during his transition while holding his hand. He knows I’ll need it to carry on the rest of my life without him. 💔 Rest King Biz! #strongisland #bizmarkie #theladyandthelegend #adidas #kingBiz," she wrote as the caption of a photo featuring the couple wearing Adidas gear.
Jenni Izumi, Biz's manager, also confirmed the news of his death with XXL. "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," she said. "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. 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."
A few weeks ago on June 30, rumors began circulating that Biz Markie had died when several media outlets prematurely reported on his passing. At the time, Izumi denounced claims he was dead. "Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible," she said in a statement. "Biz’s wife and family are touched by the outpouring of love and admiration from his friends, peers and fans alike. At this time, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Last summer, Biz, who continued his legacy in music as a lauded DJ after releasing more than a dozen solo albums and compilations throughout his career, was hospitalized due to complications related to type 2 diabetes.
The Harlem-born, Long Island-raised rhymer was recognized for his beatboxing skills, oddball sense of humor that led to his funky designation, entertaining raps on wax and off-kilter singing during his time in the spotlight. He epitomized the saying "Don't take yourself too seriously" with his brand of funny and charisma.
Biz Markie came up under MC Shan, Marley Marl and Roxanne Shante in the 1980s as part of the Juice Crew. He got his start in hip-hop with the release of his debut album, Goin' Off, in 1988. "Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz" featuring TJ Swan, another hip-hop classic, is a five-minute showcase of Biz's animated lyrics and beatboxing skills. Aside from giving a step-by-step guide on how to work his mouth into a beat and letting the world know he's been flexing his skills since 15, Biz makes it clear rapping is his specialty: "Well, I don't just do the beatbox, I rock on the mic." Singer Mya's "Best of Me, Pt. 2" featuring Jay-Z famously samples the track.
"Vapors," also off his debut LP, highlighted a bit of the comedic commentary side to Biz, who raps about how people slept on his friends TJ Swan and Big Daddy Kane when they didn't have much, but once they were dripped out and successful, the fans "caught the vapors." Big Daddy Kane even has a cameo in the video.
"Just a Friend," Biz's most classic, successful song to date, climbed to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990. He flexes his art of storytelling on the track, sharing a tale of a young lady he met at a concert who ends up lying about having a boyfriend. He famously tells "yo mama" jokes in the accompanying video's opening scene. "You, you got what I need, but you say he's just a friend/And you say he's just a friend, oh baby," he rhymes. The record introduced the world to his sophomore album, The Biz Never Sleeps, in 1989.
The platinum-selling hip-hop pioneer went on to release three more albums, with Weekend Warrior being his fifth and final solo release in 2005.
Aside from music, he ingrained himself in pop culture. Movie roles like 2003's Men in Black II, in which he played a beatboxing alien parody of himself, demonstrated his talents in other lanes. He even had a fan in children, appearing regularly on Yo Gabba Gabba!, the live action puppet TV show, in 2009 and 2010, with a special segment called "Biz's Beat of the Day."
Following the news of Biz Markie's death today, the hip-hop community began sharing their memories and kind words of the late rapper.
Nas posted a photo on Instagram of Biz back in the day with the caption, "RIP BIZ MARKIE. WE LOVE YOU."
Q-Tip expressed the pain he felt after learning of Biz's death. "This one hurts baad ... RIP to my Aries bro... ahhh man @BizMarkie damn im gonna miss u so so many memories.. hurts bad. My FRIEND," he tweeted.
Ghostface Killah also went to Instagram to pay respects to the late MC. "REST IN PEACE KING @officialbizmarkie," Ghost wrote as the caption for a photo of a young Biz.
MC Hammer praised Biz for being a true original. "👑 Biz was an amazing human being.He put smiles on millions of faces and was loved by all.A true hip hop Legend.He will be missed but never forgotten. Authentic !!! Original !!! #ripbizmarkie 🕊 🕊🕊," Hammer tweeted.
Raekwon thanked Biz for his gifts to hip-hop. "THE BIZMARK BIZMARK ! We will miss you Diabolical. Rest in paradise KiNG !” 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾Thankyou for everything you gave the CULTURE . Hip hop lost A true icon .. condolences to the entire Family," he posted to Instagram.
Take a look at the hip-hop community sharing their thoughts on Biz Markie and his contribution to hip-hop below.
Posdnuos of De La Soul
R.A. the Rugged Man
Rest in Power, Biz Markie.