Prince Markie Dee, who as a member of the Fat Boys trio released some of the most commercially successful hip-hop albums of the 1980s and helped accelerate the absorption of genres into pop culture, died in Miami on Thursday. He was 52 years old.
His death was confirmed by Rock the Bells, a SiriusXM station where he had been a host. No cause was given.
In the mid-1980s, the Fat Boys were among the best-known hip-hop groups; their 1987 album Crushin went platinum and featured a Beach Boys collaboration, Wipeout, which was their biggest hit, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. That year the band starred in a full comedy , Disorderlies.
Hip-hop was barely starting to be accepted into mainstream American pop culture, and the band’s light rhymes, accessible dance routines, and winning comedic approach made them true ambassadors on hits such as Jailhouse. Rap, Stick Em and Can you feel it. Some of their songs were about food and played in their image of harmless heavyweights.
Prince Markie Dee was born Mark Anthony Morales on February 19, 1968. He formed Disco 3 in the early 1980s with Darren (the Human Beat Box) Robinson and Damon (Kool Rock Ski) Wimbley, friends of the East New York section from Brooklyn. They won a talent show in 1983 at Radio City Music Hall and were signed to a management contract by the show’s promoter, who suggested they change their name to Fat Boys.
Their size has become their gadget, their business card and their accelerator. Their manager once held a promotional contest in which fans could guess the group’s collective weight.
The group released seven full albums; in addition to their platinum Crushin, three went gold. In 1984, Fat Boys appeared on the Fresh Fest Tour, the first hip-hop arena tour. Four years later, the group recorded a new version of Twist with Chubby Checker. The trio also appeared in the films Krush Groove and Knights of the City before going their separate ways in the early 1990s. Mr. Robinson died in 1995 at the age of 28 after falling from a chair while knocking for friends and passed out.
Prince Markie Dee released a pair of solo albums in the 1990s, the first of which spawned the hit single Typical reasons (Swing My Way). At the same time, he began working as a songwriter and producer for Uptown Records, working with Father MC and Mary J. Blige. He helped write and produce the hit Ms. Bliges 1992 True love and worked on her debut album, Whats the 411? He has also worked on songs and remixes for Destinys Child, Mariah Carey and others.
Information on the survivors was not immediately available.
Later in his career, Mr. Morales was a radio personality on WMIB-FM and WEDR-FM in Miami and on SiriusXM. But he was best known for being one of the Fat Boys when the band’s songs were seemingly everywhere.
I would walk and all of a sudden I heard music ricocheting off the walls, wrote rapper Fat Joe Instagram, recalling how the beatboxing Fat Boyss huh huh huh ha huh was the first song they played at the block party to summon you.
He called Mr. Morales a great guy, a legend and a trailblazer.
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