Beatbox and hip hop pioneer Biz Markie has passed away at the age of 57.

The news was confirmed by the late rapper’s rep Jenni Izumi, in a statement that read: “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.

“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.”

TMZ reported that the artist passed away in a Baltimore hospital this past Friday (16th July). No cause of death has been made public, but the rapper was known to be experiencing severe health compilations recently due to type 2 diabetes.

Markie was raised in Harlem, and became a key figure at New York nightclubs during the ’80s at a time that hip hop was gaining increasing interest. His 1988 debut ‘Goin’ Off’ saw him showcase his beatboxing talents, and start to win a number of fans. 

It was followed by his second album, ‘The Biz Never Sleeps’, in 1989. That record was a considerable breakthrough success, featuring perhaps his best known hit ‘Just A Friend’.