Just A Friend Rapper Biz Markie Has Died, Aged 57

US rapper Biz Markie has died at the age of 57.

Biz, who was born Marcel Theo Hall in 1964, was a prominent figure in the early hip-hop scene in the 1980s.

He scored his biggest hit in 1989 with the track Just A Friend, which reached the top 10 in the US charts.

The news of his death was announced by his representative, Jenni Izumi, who said that he died on Friday with his wife at his side.

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Biz Markie pictured last year

Paying her respects, she said: “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.

“He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.”

No cause of death has been given. Biz was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2014, and last year was hospitalised for several weeks last year due to complications from the disease.

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Biz Markie performing in 1990

Although Just A Friend was Biz’s only song to chart on the Hot 100, several follow-up songs made the Billboard rap charts in the early 1990s.

Biz released five studio albums in his lifetime, the last of which, Weekend Warrior, came out in 2003.

More recently, he collaborated with The Flaming Lips and Kesha on the track 2012 (You Must Be Upgraded) and released the single Studda Step.

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