Mark Anthony Morales, known publicly as Prince Markie Dee of the rap collective the Fat Boys, has passed away aged 52.
The tragic passing of Morales – who had achieved success as a rapper then later as a producer and songwriter for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey – was revealed in a Twitter post by his manager Louis ‘Uncle Louie’ Gregory yesterday.
In a touching statement to the rapper, Gregory wrote: “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.”
Further tributes poured in from the likes of Questlove, who took to Instagram to post: “They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time. Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it. Like 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.”
The Fat Boys were a Brooklyn rap collective featuring Morales, Darren Robinson (The Human Beat Box) and Damon Wimbley (Kool Rock Ski), who produced novelty style songs that nonetheless proved early hip-hop to be commercially viable.
They were integral members of the early hip-hop movement and a fundamental fixture on the legendary “Fresh Fest” tours of 1984 and ’85, which also featured Blow, Run-DMC, Whodini and, on the second tour, the Furious Five and Grandmaster Flash. These tours were instrumental in bringing rap to a wider audience.
Under the tutelage of fellow rapper and producer Kurtis Blow, they achieved hits with a series of albums from their self-titled debut to Chrusin’ and even appeared in the popular film Krush Groove.
Morales also went on to have a string of solo successes with the songs ‘Typical Reasons (Swing My Way)’, and ‘Love Daddy’. He later focussed more on producing working with Blige on her first big hit ‘Real Love’ as well as working with the likes of; Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Craig Mack and Marc Anthony.
He leaves behind a legacy as one of the forefathers of rap who made the movement viable. You can listen to one of his biggest hits, ‘Wipeout’, below.