Biz Markie, a hip-hop staple known for his beatboxing prowess, turntable mastery and the 1989 classic “Just a Friend,” will be laid to rest Monday in New York.
The New York rapper died peacefully last month with his wife by his side. He was 57.
With laughter and tears, songs and stories, friends and family of Biz Markie celebrated his life and legacy at a funeral Monday, remembering the rapper as larger than life and full of love.
“He cared for people, he had a way of making us laugh through our pain," said Rev. Al Sharpton in his eulogy at the Patchogue Theatre on Long Island, where Biz Markie's black coffin was placed center stage, an arrangement of white flowers on top.
“He’d come in a room and his presence didn’t have to be announced, it was felt," Sharpton said.
Markie, known for the 1989 classic “Just a Friend,” died last month at the age of 57. The New York rapper's death brought a stream of tributes from his musical contemporaries and those who were simply fans.
Among those who attended the funeral were Ice-T and Fat Joe, as well as Montell Jordan and Al B. Sure.
Markie, born Marcel Theo Hall, was known for his lighthearted ways, and was the self-proclaimed “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop.”
“The thing I’m going to miss the most about him was every time he would see me, his face would just light up with that Chiclet, toothy smile,” said his widow, Tara Hall.
“He made me laugh every day,” she said. “That is not hyperbole. That is a fact.”
A New York native, Markie began his music career in 1985 as a beat boxer of the Juice Crew, a rap collective he helped Big Daddy Kane join. Three years later, he released his debut album “Goin’ Off,” which featured underground hits “Vapors” and “Pickin’ Boogers.”
Markie broke into mainstream music with his platinum-selling song “Just a Friend,” the lead single on his sophomore album “The Biz Never Sleeps.” The friend-zone anthem cracked Rolling Stone’s top 100 pop songs and made VH1’s list of 100 greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
He made music with the Beastie Boys, opened for Chris Rock’s comedy tour and was a sought-after DJ for countless star-studded events.
“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," Markie’s representative, Jenni Izumi, said in a statement.
Markie kept his name relevant as he consistently booked more than 175 shows a year, according to the rapper’s website. He’s appeared on television shows including “In Living Color," “Empire” along with “black-ish” and the 2002 movie “Men in Black II,” in which he played an alien parody of himself in the film starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Markie also taught the method of beatboxing in an episode of the children’s show “Yo Gabba Gabba!”