After being hospitalized with Type 2 diabetes last April and suffering a diabetic coma and stroke in December, Biz Markie reportedly passed away “peacefully” according to his representative, Jenni Izumi, via msn. Biz, a man of many talents including rapping, singing, and producing, was known for his laid back, comedic approach to life, something that permeated his music – most apparent in popular culture due to his 1989 anthem “Just a Friend,” a certified platinum single from his album “The Biz Never Sleeps.”
Though “Just a Friend” made Biz Markie what some would call a ‘one-hit wonder’ because of a lack of subsequent major commercial success, the song became a cult anthem because of Biz’s unique style and delivery – including singing the ironic, heart wrenching chorus in a boisterous and playful tone – combined with the equally playful and catchy sample of melodic piano instrumentation from “(You) Got What I Need,” by Freddie Scott. Therefore, the song has endured decades and is not only beloved by numerous generations of music lovers, but it has also influenced other generations of rap artists.
Look no further than the outpouring of support from the likes of LL Cool J, Questlove and countless others on social media hours after the rapper’s death to confirm Biz Markie’s legacy. “Love you, bro and I want to send love to all your fans… to your family, to your wife, management and rest in power bro,” LL said in small part of his heartfelt and tearful tribute on instagram.
In a lengthy tribute, Questlove said, in part, “Biz built me man.”
“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,” Izumi said in a written statement. Biz Markie was 57.