Mark Anthony Morales, known as Prince Markie Dee from the 1980s hip-hop trio the Fat Boys, has died. He was 52.
Morales’ manager and friend Louis Gregory confirmed the news Thursday, writing on Twitter that the rapper is “forever in my Heart.”
“Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends,” Gregory tweeted, along with a picture of Morales. “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.”
Morales, who would have turned 53 on Friday, was a pioneering member the Fat Boys, a group that emerged in New York and also included Damon Wimbley and Darren Robinson. The group was known for using beatboxing in their music and for ushering in other hip-hop legends like Biz Markie and Doug E. Fresh.
According to a tribute posted by SiriusXM, as host of the “Prince Markie Dee Show” on LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Radio, Morales interviewed people like record producer Jermaine Dupri, basketball player Chris Bosh and singer CeeLo Green.
“The Rock The Bells family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mark ‘Prince Markie Dee’ Morales earlier today,” read a tweet from the station Thursday. “That voice and his presence can never be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”
Morales also co-founded the production company Soul Conventions, which has produced songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Craig Mack and Marc Anthony.