Biz Markie, ‘Just A Friend’ rapper, dies at 57

Biz Markie, who endowed his music with so much fun and humor that he became known as “The Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” has passed away, his manager, Jenni Izumi, confirmed to CNN.

He was 57 years old.

“Biz created a legacy of art that will always be celebrated by his industry peers and beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning more than 35 years,” Izumi said in a written statement.

Loved in the music industry for his upbeat personality, Biz Markie even had a dance named after him.

Born Marcel Hall in New York City, he began rapping in local clubs when he met hip hop producer Marley Marl in 1985.

That meeting led to Biz Markie working as a human beatbox alongside artists MC Shan and Roxanne Shanté.

In his spare time, Hall recorded demos and in 1988, he landed a contract with the Cold Chillin ‘label to release his debut album, “Goin’ Off.”

On the radio it soon became popular and the album released hits such as “Vapors” and “Make the Music With Your Mouth, Biz.”

The following year, his album “The Biz Never Sleeps” went gold, fueled by what would become his biggest hit, “Just A Friend.”

His playful and sad personality was in direct contrast to some of the stronger hip hop cores that had become popular in the late eighties.

But Biz Markie would soon run into trouble with a case that helped change the way the rap industry did business.

Musician Gilbert O’Sullivan sued the rapper for his song “Alone Again” on his 1991 album “I Need a Haircut.”

O’Sullivan claimed that using samples or samples of the success of 1972 O’Sullivan “Alone Again (Naturally)” by rapper was an unauthorized use of his music.

O’Sullivan won, and later on, hip hop artists had to eliminate the use of samples .

“It was me anyway,” Biz Markie said during an interview in 2008. “It wasn’t a rape case or a gun case. It was a sample .”

The rapper had a bit of fun with the case, naming his 1993 album “All Samples Cleared!”

Honing his skills as a DJ, he soon became known as much for playing the party as for his voice.

He also expanded his career to include acting, appearing in various movies and television shows, including “Men in Black II.” He was also a narrator in the adult puppet show “Crank Yankers” and in the children’s series “Yo Gabba Gabba!” with his “Biz’s Beat of the Day”.

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