Prince Markie Dee, one of the founding members of the hip-hop trio The Fat Boys has died at the age of 52. No cause of death has been officially confirmed at this time.
“Forever in my Heart. Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends,” the group’s manager and Prince Markie Dee’s longtime friend Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening. “My heart breaks today because I lost a brother. I’ll always love you Mark and I’ll cherish everything you taught me. Tomorrow is your birthday, swing my way big bro.”
Born Mark Anthony Morales on Feb. 19, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York, Prince Markie Dee first performed with original members the late Darren Robinson (aka the Human Beatbox, who died in 1995) and Damon Wimbley (aka Kool Rock Ski) in the 1980s under the name of The Disco 3. That name was short-lived and the artists later became what we now know as the Fat Boys.
The group launched their career in 1983 when they won a talent contest at Radio City Music Hall and by the end of the decade they had become one of rap’s premier pop culture ambassadors with the simultaneous release of their platinum-selling fourth album Crushin’ and their breakout comedy film Disorderlies in the summer of 1987. The trio popularized beatboxing and their goofy sense of humor and affable demeanors made them essential to bringing rap music to the mainstream.
Their first two albums—1984’s self-titled debut and 1985’s The Fat Boys Are Back—were produced by rap legend Kurtis Blow and included hits, such as “Can You Feel It?,” “Jail House Rap,” and “The Fat Boys Are Back.”
The group’s biggest hit came when they covered “Wipeout” by the Beach Boys on their fourth studio album, Crushin’. The cover song reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. They also covered the 1960 hit “The Twist” with rock n’ roll legend Chubby Checker called “The Twist (Yo Twist)” on their follow-up album, Coming Back Hard Again and the song peaked at number 16 on the Hot 100.
Prince Markie Dee’s hip-hop industry peers and fans alike took to social media to honor the late rapper, songwriter, producer and radio personality after hearing the heartbreaking news.
“[T]hey were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time. Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it,” Questlove posted on Instagram, along with a throwback clip of their appearance on Soul Train in 1984.
“I would be walking and all of a sudden i would hear music ricochet off the walls, it would go huh huh huh ha huh Hu Hu ha Fat Fat Fat boys, Fat Fat Fat boys this was the first song they would play at the block party to summon you to appear,” Fat Joe wrote on Instagram. “Today’s new is sad member of the Fat boys Prince Markie D morales has passed on he was a great guy a Legend and pioneer God bless my fellow Boriqua brother till we meet again.”
“The Rock The Bells family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mark “Prince Markie Dee” Morales earlier today,” the SiriusXM channel where Prince Markie Dee had a daily show wrote on Twitter. “That voice and his presence can never be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”
Rest in power, Prince Markie Dee.