Prince Markie Dee, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Fat Boys, died on Thursday, the group’s manager, Louis Gregory confirmed. He was 52. No cause of death has been given.
“Forever in my Heart. Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends,” Gregory wrote on Twitter. “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 February 19th, 1968, he teamed up with Darren Robinson (the Human Beatbox) and Damon Wimbley (Kool Rock Ski) and performed under the name The Disco 3 before later becoming 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.”
“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 news is sad the last 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.”
It was their Crushin’ cover of “Wipeout” with the Beach Boys that gave them their biggest hit, reaching Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their cover version of “The Twist” with Chubby Checker from Coming Back Hard Again hit Number 16 on the Hot 100 chart.
Following the Fat Boys’ breakup, Dee launched a solo career and wrote and produced songs for Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige (the latter recording Morales’ “Real Love” to become her first Top Ten hit). His 1992 album Free garnered a Number One hit with “Typical Reasons (Swing My Way).”
He moved into radio later in his career, serving as a drive-time host WMIB in Miami, and had his own show, The Prince Markie Dee Show on SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station.
“They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time,” Questlove wrote on Instagram. “Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it … They were so dope we just took them for granted. They did dope routines & dancesteps, albums went gold & platinum. Did movies & tv & commercials. They explored territories for the first time that today just seems like *yawn* a Tuesday.”
From Rolling Stone US