Mark Anthony Morales, the hip hop legend better known as Prince Markie Dee of the Fat Boys, has sadly passed away. While the cause of death has not yet been revealed, the news of Morales's passing was confirmed by his manager, Louie "Uncle Louie" Gregory, with an emotional post on Twitter. Morales was just 52 years old, passing on the day before he would have turned 53.
"Forever in my Heart," Gregory writes of his late friend. "Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends. My heart breaks today because I lost a brother. I'll always love you Mark and I'll cherish everything you taught me. Tomorrow is your birthday, swing my way big bro."
Others in the hip hop world are also paying tribute to Morales in the wake of his death. Roots joint frontman Questlove took to Instagram to address the news, explaining that it "hurts to see the mass exodus of people that helped shape my/our lives like this." He also included classic footage of the Fat Boys from the 1980s, impressed with everything the group managed to accomplish - even if it's been largely overlooked in the years since.
"They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time," Love says of the Fat Boys. "Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it. Like they were so dope we just took them for granted. They did dope routines & dancesteps, albums went gold & platinum. Did movies & tv & commercials. They explored territories for the first time that today just seems like *yawn* a Tuesday."
Rap legend Eminem also paid tribute on Twitter by writing: "So sad 2 hear of the legendary @PrinceMarkieDee of the Fat Boys' passing. One of my childhood idols & favorite mc's of all time. Left us way 2 soon. He will truly be missed."
Showing just how popular the Fat Boys were in the 1980s, Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens also posted an amazing photo of himself alongside the Fat Boys and Mr. T in a Hulkamania cap, and it's probably the most '80s picture you ever saw. In the caption, Reubens writes, "Prince Markie Dee, rest in peace."
Morales was born on Feb. 19, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York. Along with Darren Robinson and Damon Wimbley, Morales established the trio originally called the Disco 3 in the early 1980s. They signed their first contract after winning a talent contest in 1983, at which point they renamed themselves as the Fat Boys. The group would go on to produce seven albums, with three reaching gold and one reaching platinum.
During the 80s, Prince Markie Dee also turned himself into an actor, appearing as himself alongside the Fat Boys in the classic hip-hop musical Krush Groove, with their hit 'All You Can Eat', which saw the rap trio wrecking the Sbarro buffet. The group would follow up that appearance with their own movie Disorderlies in 1987, which followed Three bumbling orderlies who are hired to take care of an old rich man. It wasn't the box office hit they were expecting. Prince Markie Dee would go onto appear in the Mr. T. crime drama series T and T, and had a memorable stint on Miami Vice. Sadly Disorderlies, began and ended the Fat Boys' movie careers.
When the Fat Boys disbanded in the early 90s, Prince Markie Dee struck out on his own with a successful solo career. His first album, Free, featured the No. 1 single "Typical Reasons (Swing My Way). Morales would then form the production company Soul Convention with Cory Rooney to write and produce tracks for other hot artists in the industry, such as Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, and Marc Anthony.