Biz Markie, 'Just a Friend' Rapper and Crank Yankers Announcer, Dead at 57

Rapper and DJ Biz Markie, who is best known for his 1989 hit “Just a Friend” and who was the announcer on the raunchy puppet series Crank Yankers, has died. He was 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,” a statement from Markie’s rep to our sister site Variety reads. “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,” the statement continues. “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.”

The Harlem native, who stole a scene in 2002’s Men in Black II, played versions of himself on shows such as black-ish and Empire. He also worked as a voice actor on animated series such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Adventure Time and Mad. Markie made an appearance as a superhero on the children’s offering Yo Gabba Gabba! and frequently guest starred on the popular sketch show In Living Color in the 1990s.

Markie’s cause of death is unknown at this time. The rapper, born Born Marcel Theo Hall, was hospitalized in April 2020 due to complications from diabetes. The beloved and outspoken beatboxer also suffered a stroke while in a diabetic coma in 2020.

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