Friends, family, fans bid final farewell to rapper Biz Markie on Long Island

PATCHOGUE, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Family, friends and fans gathered on Long Island Monday to bid a final farewell to rapper Biz Markie, who was laid to rest in his hometown of Patchogue.

A viewing was followed by a funeral in the afternoon, with the Reverend Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy.

Markie, who birth name was Marcel Theo Hall, died two weeks ago at the age of 57, of complications from diabetes.

Markie's nearly three-hour funeral was attended by hip hop stars such as LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Kid Capri, Treach of Naughty by Nature, Montell Jordan, Fat Joe and more. They remembered him as a fun-loving person who was always smiling and making people laugh.

"When he came into the room he shifted the atmosphere," said Bishop Lamor Whitehead.

"It's just a sad day that, you know, that we lost a good brother," said rapper Dupre "Doitall" Kelly. "I mean, a real good brother."

Treach, lead rapper of hip-hop group Naughty by Nature, said Markie changed the landscape of hip-hop music.

"You could do your own style," he said. "You could sing off key."

"There's never going to be another Biz Markie," rapper Kid Capri said. "There's never going to be another one like him."

Artist Montell Jordan, who now serves as a preacher, said he had an opportunity to pray with Markie.

"That's my greatest joy about today - even with the loss that I know it's a gain because I get to see him again," he said.

Sal Abbatiello, who used to own a nightclub in the Bronx, said he and Markie stayed life-long friends after Markie did one of his first-ever performances at Abbatiello's club, The Disco Fever.

"He was so lovable," Abbatiello said. "He was like a big teddy bear."

Tara Davis, Markie's wife of three years, spoke to the crowd at the funeral.

She said while she no longer has to take care of Markie's physical body, she needs to take care of his legacy and she asked for the help of his friends to do that.

Last week, the Patchogue Village Board voted to rename a portion of South Street where Markie grew up in his name. A dedication ceremony will be held in the coming weeks.



Markie became known within the rap genre realm as the self-proclaimed "Clown Prince of Hip-Hop" for his lighthearted lyrics and humorous nature. 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.

The New York-native's music career began 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.

After two successful albums, Markie was served with a copyright infringement lawsuit for a song on his third studio album "I Need a Haircut" in 1991.

He and his label, Warner Bros Records, were sued by Irish singer Gilbert O'Sullivan who claimed that elements from his 1972 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)" were illegally sampled in Markie's "Alone Again."

The judge ruled to halt further distribution of the album, which was reissued without the illegal track. The judgment also changed the landscape of music sampling by dictating they were preapproved by the original owner.

Despite the setback, Markie released his fourth album "All Samples Cleared!" in 1993 that was an apparent reference to the court battle. He released his final album "Weekend Warrior" a decade later.
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!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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