Prince Markie Dee of the hip-hop trio The Fat Boys has died, multiple outlets have reported. He was 52.
Dee’s death was confirmed by the group’s manager Louis Gregory on Thursday, Feb. 18, with an emotional message on Twitter.
“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,” Gregory wrote alongside a photo collage of the rapper. He continued, “I’ll always love you Mark and I’ll cherish everything you taught me. Tomorrow is your birthday, swing my way big bro.”
AllHipHop’s Chuck Creekmur reported that Dee died of congestive heart failure, although further details surrounding his untimely passing were not made available. He would’ve turned 53 on Friday, Feb. 19.
Dee was one-third of the 1980’s group that included fellow bandmates Darren ‘The Human Beat Box’ Robinson and Damon ‘Kool Rock Ski’ Wimbley. The members were understudies of Kurtis Blow and garnered fame alongside fellow hip-hop acts, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, and Whodini — who also recently lost a member, its founder John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher.
Dee broke ground as being one of the first Puerto Rican rap stars. He also found success as a solo act and producer best known for his hit single “Typical Reason (Swing My Way),” which peaked at number one.
The New York native also had an impressive pen game, writing songs for artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Craig Mack, and even co-wrote and co-produced Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love.”
Tributes have already begun pouring in as celebrities and fans reflect on Dee’s illustrious life and career. The official Twitter account for Rock The Bells, where the rapper worked as a radio host and DJ, posted condolences following the announcement.
“The Rock the Bells family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mark ‘Princes Markie Dee’ Morales earlier today,” the Rock the Bells group wrote. “That voice and his presence can never be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”
Questlove of the musical collective The Roots shared a lengthy and heartfelt fact-filled tribute on his Instagram page with a clip of the group’s appearance on “Soul Train.” He wrote, “I wanted to leave this electrifying clip of the #FatBoys on @SoulTrain to show you how mind blowing this trio was when they came out in 1984. I mean—-man…I dunno what I mean anymore. 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….#PrinceMarkieDee.”
Check out some of the reactions to Dee’s passing below.