Biz Markie: Montell Jordan, Roxanne Shante and More Reflect on His Legacy at Memorial Service
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Family, friends and icons of the hip-hop world alike gathered to pay tribute to the legacy of Biz Markie. The rapper and DJ was honored with a homegoing celebration and private funeral on Monday, two weeks after his death was announced on July 16.
The star's private memorial -- live-streamed on BET's YouTube channel -- took place at the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts. Bronx-born rapper Fat Joe, rapper turned actor Ice-T, artist LL Cool J and rapper turned pastor Montell Jordan were in attendance, as well as many more of his famous friends who took a moment to pay their respects.
Jordan stepped onstage to say a prayer during the ceremony.
Rev. Al Sharpton honored the rapper's memory with a powerful eulogy, highlighting Markie's authenticity in an industry that encourages artists to forget their roots. He recalled how many of the artists present at the memorial were part of the generation of artists who "brought the world to respect our culture with their R&B, all the way to gospel." It was Markie and those artists that made the world understand the roots of Black music.
"It was... Biz and those that are here today that made the world understand that we may be 'urban' and 'street' and have our own style, but we were gifted and had something to say. We just said it our way," he said. "And the thing that was remarkable about Biz was that he never lost that authenticity. Some artists started Black and went mainstream. Biz was one of the artists that made mainstream come Black."
He added, "He was Biz in Vegas, he was Biz in Hollywood, he was Biz wherever he was. He broke down doors that we didn't know were there because he never wanted to be respected for anything other than what he was. He never stopped being one of us. Everybody here is going to have a day like today. But the question is, can they say anything about you or are you gonna have to look for a lying preacher to come up here and make something up for you?"
Musician Roxanne Shante also took the mic, recalling a conversation she had with the late DJ about his eventual death.
In July 2020, news broke that Markie -- born Marcel Theo Hall -- had been hospitalized for several weeks due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. He later suffered a stroke while in the hospital, according to a report from HipHipDX in December. Markie's brother, Diamond Shell, confirmed the news of the rapper's death on Facebook writing, "To the baddest in the beats icon legend … my brother BIZ MARKIE. I’LL miss you more than words …."
"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," Markie's rep, Jenni Izumi, later said in a statement to RollingStone.
"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."
See more on how Markie will be remembered in the video below.
Biz Markie Dead at 57: LL Cool J, Questlove and More Pay Tribute
Biz Markie, 'Just a Friend' Singer, Dead at 57