Rapper Biz Markie has died at 57 following complications from diabetes. The "Just a Friend" rapper has been dealing with health issues for over a year, passing away in a Baltimore hospital around 6:30 on Friday.
According to TMZ, Markie's wife Tara Hall held his hand as he passed, while nursing staff and family were present to work through the loss. Markie was hospitalized a year prior due to his Type II diabetes, with representatives for the rapper saying Markie was "receiving the best care from an amazing team of medical professionals."
More recently, the rapper was the subject of false death reports that were quickly denied by family. While manager Jenni Izumi confirmed Markie was facing a health battle, she denied rumors he had died. "The news of Biz Markie’s passing is not true," Izumi said. "Biz is still under medical care, surrounded by professionals who are working hard to provide the best health care possible. Biz’s wife and family are touched by the outpouring of love and admiration from his friends, peers and fans alike. At this time, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Legendary rapper Big Daddy Kane also confirmed that Markie had not passed away at the time of the reports. "Please keep my brother in your prayers. Yes, he has some serious health issues, but he is still alive, and his wife would like y’all to respect his privacy," Kane wrote. "And remember — it’s better for you to get the news correct than get the news first. Check your facts, people. And Wikipedia, do better. Keep my brother Biz in your prayers."
TMZ added that despite reports, Markie was never in a coma and that was never the case. The Harlem native broke through in 1989 with his Top 40 hit "Just a Friend." After that, Markie became a staple in pop culture and teamed with several famous rap names, including the Beastie Boys, Canibus and Will Smith.
Outside of music, Biz Markie is a large figure in popular culture due to work in TV and film. He has appeared in movies like Men in Black II, The Meteor Man and Sharknado 2: The Second One, as well as TV shows including In Living Color, Black-ish, Empire, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Hip-Hop Squares and Celebrity Fit Club. Biz Markie also had a solid voiceover work resume, with his vocal performances being heard on Crank Yankers, Adventure Time and SpongeBob SquarePants.