Biz Markie, the New York rapper sometimes referred to as the Clown Prince of Hip Hop, has passed away. Earlier this month, there were premature reports that the "Just a Friend" rapper had died, though his manager clarified that he was still alive and under medical care after years of failing health. On Friday, it was announced that Biz Markie had sadly died at the age of 57.

"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," Markie's representative said in a statement.

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"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 cause of death was not specified, but Markie had been struggling with his health in recent years. In 2020, he was hospitalized due to complications with Type II diabetes, and fans had grown increasingly worried about the rapper. Earlier this year, his health took a turn for the worse when he reportedly suffered a stroke. His family had kept the details of his condition private, though they asked for prayers this month following the premature death reports.

Biz Markie, whose birth name was Marcel Theo Hall, was born on April 8, 1964. He broke out in 1989 with the hip hop single "Just a Friend," which was his lead single from the album The Biz Never Sleeps. It reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 and was certified platinum that same year. He'd go on to release the albums I Need a Haircut, All Samples Cleared!, and Weekend Warrior.

The hip hop legend was also famous for his skills as a beatboxer. This even led to an appearance in the sequel Men in Black II with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones with Markie playing an alien whose native language sounds like beatboxing. He also regularly appeared on the children's educational show Yo Gabba Gabba! for a segment called "Biz's Beat of the Day," always providing a new sound with his mouth for young viewers to enjoy.

Markie also appeared in the first season of the weight loss reality show Celebrity Fit Club in 2005. Setting the record for total weight loss, Markie lost more weight than any of the other competitors to become the winner of the season. He later performed "Just a Friend" with actor Jeff Goldblum on Late Night in 2010. In the season 3 finale of Black-ish in 2017, Markie revisited his hit song once again for another rendition on the show, this time adding in the names of the characters.

Our thoughts go out to Markie's wife Tara along with his family and friends at this difficult time. There was no one else quite like Biz Markie, and anyone who knew him will certainly never be able to forget him. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.