Rapper Biz Markie, Known for Hit Song 'Just a Friend,' Dies at Age 57

The musician died Friday with his wife Tara by his side, his rep tells PEOPLE

biz markie
Biz Markie. Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty

Rapper Biz Markie, known for his hit "Just a Friend," has died. He was 57.

On Friday, the musician, born Marcel Theo Hall, died with his wife Tara by his side, his rep confirmed to PEOPLE. His cause of death was not revealed.

"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. We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time," the rep said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"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. We respectfully request privacy for his family as they mourn their loved one."

Biz Markie
Biz Markie. David Corio/Getty

The New York City rap icon was previously believed to have died earlier this month after rumors circulated on social media about his apparent death.

"The news of Biz Markie's passing is not true," manager Jenni Izumi said in a statement to multiple outlets at the time. "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," Izumi continued. "At this time, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

No other information on Markie's condition or what prompted him to seek medical care was released at the time by his manager. The rapper was reportedly previously hospitalized last year for complications related to Type 2 diabetes, Izumi told TMZ at the time.

Biz Markie
Biz Markie. Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Born on April 8, 1964, in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, Markie went on to perform at colleges in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where he gained recognition for his work, according to The Washington Post. He released his first album, Goin' Off, in 1988.

A year later in October 1989, Markie's second studio album, The Biz Never Sleeps, was released, which featured his hit track, "Just A Friend." The song became the artist's most successful single, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The track samples the 1968 song "You Got What I Need" by Freddie Scott, providing the setup for the song's chorus.

The rapper later went on to release three more studio albums — 1991's I Need a Haircut, 1993's All Samples Cleared! and 2003's Weekend Warrior — throughout the years. He also dabbled in acting a bit, starring on projects such as Sharknado 2: The Second One, Yo Gabba Gabba, Empire, Black-ish and Spongebob SquarePants.

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