Rapper Biz Markie has died. He was 57 years old.
Markie, whose real name was Marcel Theo Hall, was a rapper, producer and DJ in his career, but will forever be known for his quirky, 1989 single “Just a Friend.”
“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,” his representative said in a statement. “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.”
“Just a Friend” was featured on Markie’s second studio album, “The Biz Never Sleeps.” It rose to No. 9 on the U.S. charts and went platinum for selling over 2 million copies.
The song was the only one from Markie to chart in the top 100 in his career, but it cemented his legacy in hip-hop forever. It wasn’t just the song that was iconic, so was the video, which featured the rapper don a powder-white wig as he played the piano and belted out the classic chorus: “You, you’ve got what I need/ but you say he’s just a friend/ and you say he’s just a friend/ oh baby, you, you’ve got what I need.”
The chorus, easy to sing along to as it repeated and grew louder as Markie grew more impassioned by his hard-luck dating life, won over both rap and mainstream fans as the genre was still bursting into the country’s consciousness.
He released five solo studio albums in his career, most recently “Weekend Warrior” in 2003.
His genial personality and outgoing antics earned him several cameos in TV and films, including “Men in Black II,” “Empire” and “Black-ish.”
The rapper had struggled with his health in recent years. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2011, but said in 2014 that he was making health changes and had lost 140 pounds since the diagnosis.
“I wanted to live,” Markie told ABC News at the time. “Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn’t make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse. I’m trying to get off [diabetes medications]. The way you gotta do it is lose the weight. I’m off half my meds, I just got to get off the rest.”
“They said I could lose my feet,” he added. “They said I could lose body parts. A lot of things could happen.”
He had been married to his wife, Tara Davis, for 15 years. His wife had last posted on her Instagram on Father’s Day, sharing photos of Biz Markie with his children, and writing, “As always, thank you for your kind messages, phone calls, video messages and prayers. Biz loves them and is still in it to win it.”
“He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter,” his representative said in the statement. “We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one.”
ABC News’ Morena Basteiro contributed to this report.
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