Goofy rapper Biz Markie, who was also fondly known as the "Clown Prince of Hip-Hop," has died at 57.
The musician's manager confirmed he died on Friday, although no cause of death was revealed, according to The New York Times.
Born Marcel Theo Hall on April 8, 1964, in Harlem, the rapper grew up on Long Island, where he was known around the neighborhood as Markie. His stage name, Biz Markie, was inspired by the first hip-hop tape he heard in the 1970s by the L Brothers, featuring Busy Bee Starski.
He started his musical career as a DJ and beatboxer, performing around clubs in Manhattan, but began to make a name for himself after falling in with the Queensbridge-based collective the Juice Crew, who featured him on albums and helped him hone his rapping skills.
Biz Markie dropped his debut album, "Goin' Off," in 1988. The release was well received but it was his 1989 smash "Just a Friend," from "The Biz Never Sleeps," that catapulted him into the limelight. The song went platinum and reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Single.
Biz Markie's third album was poised for equal success, but a copyright infringement lawsuit overshadowed it. The rapper and his label were sued by reps for singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, who claimed that Biz Markie sampled the first eight bars of his 1972 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)" without permission on his own song, "Alone Again."
A judge ordered that $250,000 be paid in damages and barred further distribution of the album.
Biz Markie released a follow-up album, "All Samples Cleared!" in 1993, but it received a tepid response. His popularity had waned, and although Biz Markie remained relevant in the scene, he decided to release his final album, "Weekend Warrior" in 2003.
Biz Markie would pop up from time to time on the big and small screen though. He appeared in the movie "Men in Black II," lent his voice to "SpongeBob SquarePants," and appeared on "Black-ish." He also landed a role on the children’s show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" as a beatboxing pro.
Biz Markie did not suffer from any known health issues other than type 2 diabetes, which prompted him to lose 140 pounds in recent years, according to ABC News.
Biz Markie's survivors include his wife, Tara Hall.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.