Prince Markie Dee, known for his role in the pioneering hip-hop group the Fat Boys, has died at the age of 52. Dee’s longtime friend, Louis Gregory, and SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station (where he had a daily program) confirmed the news of his death.
The cause of death was not revealed.
“Forever in my Heart. Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends. 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,” Gregory’s tweet read.
Born Mark Anthony Morales on Feb. 19, 1968, Dee joined forces with fellow Brooklyn natives Darren Robinson (The Human Beat Box) and Damon Wimbley (Kool Rock Ski) to form the Fat Boys. The trio is widely known for popularizing beatboxing and is one of the pioneering rap groups from the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Powerhouse singles like “Jailhouse Rap” and “Can You Feel It” made them popular, but the trio’s biggest hits were a cover of “Wipeout” and “The Twist,” which charted at Nos. 12 and 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.
Dee was one of the first Latinx rappers to achieve mainstream success for his work with the Fat Boys, ultimately becoming the first Latinx rapper to go platinum.
In addition to their music career, the Fat Boys appeared in films like Disorderlies and Krush Groove.
After the Fat Boys broke up, Dee went on to have a successful solo career. His 1992 solo album, Free, was a success and spawned a No. 1 single with “Typical Reasons (Swing My Way).” He also produced and wrote songs for the likes of Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Frank Ocean, among many.
In recent years, he became a radio personality. From 2008-2010, Dee appeared on WMIB in Miami as a drive-time host and had his own show, The Prince Markie Dee Show on SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station.
As news of Dee’s death broke, tributes from the rap community flooded Twitter.