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Iconic rapper Biz Markie, 57, who was known for his classic hit "Just a Friend" has passed away.

It is understood that the star died after complications with diabetes which he had been battling with over the last year, reports TMZ

According to the website the 57-year-old died on Friday at 6.25 in a Baltimore hospital, in Maryland.

His wife Tara Hall is believed to have held his hand in his final moments with his family supported by the nursing home staff.

Real name Marcel Theo Hall, Biz was hospitalised in April 2020 because of Type 2 diabetes, there were rumours he also suffered from a stroke.

“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,” his rep Jenni Izumi said in a statement.

"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."

Biz was affectionately known in the industry as the ‘clown prince of hip-hop,’

Biz's single "Just a Friend" was released in 1989 and became a hit both in the US and around the world.

The song was in the top 40 in a number of countries and went platinum.

As well as rapping Biz was also a music producer, DJ, actor, comedian, and writer.

In 2002 he appeared opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black II and in 2016 he appeared in the Fox TV series Empire as himself.

More recently he presented a radio show on SiriusXM's LL Cool J's Rock the Bells Radio.

Biz Markie was born in Harlem, New York on April 8, 1964 and was raised in Long Island.

He began his career in New York nightclubs and became well known after performing at universities in Washington DC.

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