The Fat Boys' Prince Markie Dee has died. He was 52.
Dee's death was confirmed on Twitter by the band's manager Louis Gregory on Thursday. The songwriter would have been 53 on Friday. No cause of death has been released.
"Forever in my Heart. Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends," Gregory wrote.
"My heart breaks today because I lost a brother," he added. "I'll always love you Mark and I'll cherish everything you taught me. Tomorrow is your birthday, swing my way big bro."
In addition to Dee (né Mark Anthony Morales), The Fat Boys was made up of Darren Robinson, aka the Human Beatbox, and Damon Wimbley, aka Kool Rock Ski. Robinson died in 1995.
The trio first got together in 1968 as The Disco 3 before launching a career as The Fat Boys in 1983, according to Rolling Stone. The group won a contest at Radio City Music Hall that year and would go on to become some of the most prominent rappers in the 1980s and '90s.
Dee went on to launch a solo career, and produced music for stars like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey with his Soul Conventions production company, according to USA Today.
Dee's death prompted several tributes on social media from other musicians on Thursday.
"They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time," Questlove said in part of a lengthy tribute on Instagram, later adding of group, "they were so dope we just took them for granted."
"This hurts to see the mass exodus of people that helped shape my/our lives like this. Rest In Peace to Mark Morales, the Puerto Rican Prince, the Fat Boy," he added.
"So sad 2 hear of the legendary @PrinceMarkieDee of the Fat Boys' passing," Eminem wrote on Twitter. "One of my childhood idols & favorite mc's of all time. Left us way 2 soon. He will truly be missed."
"rest in peace to the great Prince Markie Dee of the legendary FAT BOYS," El-P added in a tweet.
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