'Just a Friend' Rapper Biz Markie Dead at 57 After Months of Illness

The hip-hop pioneer took his last breath with his wife Tara Hall holding his hand after fighting a series of complications from diabetes for more than a year.

AceShowbiz - Biz Markie, who was best known for his 1989 single "Just a Friend", has passed away. The rapper/producer/actor died on Friday, July 16 after months of illness. He was 57 years old.

His manager Jenni Izumi confirmed the sad news in a statement to the press. "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," the statement read. "We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time."

Jenni continued, "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."

While the manager didn't detail his illness, TMZ reports that Biz had been fighting a series of complications from diabetes for more than a year. He reportedly died in a Baltimore hospital at 6:25 P.M. Friday night with his wife Tara Hall holding his hand as he took his last breath. It's additionally said that the nursing staff was there to support his family, telling them how strong he was through his fight.

Biz, whose real name was Marcel Theo Hall, was hospitalized last summer for an ailment related to his Type II Diabetes. In April, Big Daddy Kane said on "The Breakfast Club" that Bizz was doing better and in a physical rehab facility.

Earlier this month, rumors swirled that the rapper, who earned the nickname The Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, died, which was later debunked by his manager. "The news of Biz Markie's passing is not true. Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best healthcare possible," Jenni Izumi said on July 1. "At this time, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Biz was born in Harlem in 1964 and became an international star when his single "Just a Friend" blew up and became a Top 40 hit in several countries. In 2008, the song made No. 100 on VH1's list of the 100 greatest hip hop songs of all time. Besides rapping, Biz also acted in numerous films and TV shows, such as "Men in Black II", became a voice actor, did comedy, became a DJ and produced music.

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