Biz Markie, who fortified the humor-and-hijinks school of hip-hop by taking it worldwide with his 1989 hit “Just a Friend,” died Friday at the age of 57, his representative said.

“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,” said Jenni D. Izumi, CEO of Biz Markie, Inc., in an emailed statement.

The rapper had been ill, and earlier this month Izumi had asked for “thoughts and prayers” about his condition after it was falsely reported in June that he had died.

On Friday, Izumi 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.”

Markie, whose real name was Marcel Theo Hall, is survived by his wife, many family members and “close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter,” Izumi.

Courtesy NBC News.

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