The hip hop community was saddened upon learning that pioneering artist, Mark Anthony “Prince Markie Dee” Morales, 52, joined the ancestors last Thursday, Feb. 18, a day prior to his 53rd bornday. As one-third of the legendary Fat Boys trio, he helped popularize the hip hop genre during its golden era. According to reports he died from congestive heart failure after suffering “distressing” health issues. His manager Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory tweeted the heartbreaking news last Thursday.
“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.”
Born in Brooklyn, along with Damon “Kool Rock Ski” Wimbley and Darren “The Human Beatbox” Robinson; they formed the Disco Three and after winning a 1983 talent contest at Radio City Hall they secured a record deal. In 1984 they participated in 1984/’85’s legendary Fresh Fest tour, featuring Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC, Whodini, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow produced their music and they released their debut album “Fat Boys” in 1984, and in 1985 “The Fat Boys Are Back,” both selling gold. 1987’s “Crushin’” went platinum-plus. Hit singles included “Can You Feel It?,” “Jail House Rap” and “The Fat Boys Are Back.”
Follow-up releases were also very successful, such as their “Crushin’” cover of “Wipeout” with the Beach Boys, reaching Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and their cover version of “The Twist” with Chubby Checker, which hit Number 16 on the Hot 100 chart. They were also featured in the films and soundtracks of “Krush Groove” (1985) and “Disorderlies” (1987).
“They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip-hop at some point in time,” wrote The Roots’ drummer Questlove on social-media. “Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it.”
Eminem and Fat Joe were among the many who praised Morales’ memory on social-media.
After the Fat Boys disbanded during the early 1990s, Prince Markie Dee embarked on a successful solo career, signing to Columbia Records as Prince Markie Dee & The Soul Convention, releasing the 1992 album “Free,” which included the R&B hit “Typical Reasons (Swing My Way),” and in 1996 on Motown Records he released “Love Daddy.”
He also produced and wrote songs for Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Craig Mack, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
Prince Markie Dee was one of hip hop’s first real popular Hispanic artists. Early during the new millennium he moved into radio, serving as a host at WMIB in Miami, and had his own show on SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station, The Prince Markie Dee Show.
The Human Beatbox passed Dec. 10, 1995 after suffering a heart attack. Kool Rock Ski is the sole surviving member.