Prince Markie Dee of legendary hip-hop group The Fat Boys has passed away.
The death of the "Stick 'Em" rapper, born Mark Morales, was confirmed by his manager Louis "Uncle Louie" Gregory on Feb. 18.
"Forever in my Heart," he began in a message on Twitter. "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." On Feb. 19, the hip-hop pioneer would have been 53 years old. The cause of death has yet to be released to the public.
Dee's work in the music industry since the '80s—along with his bandmates Darren Robinson, aka the Human Beatbox, and Damon Wimbley, aka Kool Rock Ski—ushered in the sounds for many active artists today.
According to RollingStone, the Brooklyn trio began their music career in 1983 when they won a Radio City Music Hall talent show, catapulting them into stardom. Their unique sound and fun-loving antics solidified their place in mainstream music, allowing others hip-hop acts to later follow.
Celebrities who have worked with Dee, who became a respected producer later in life, flooded the internet with tributes of his contributions to the genre.
QuestLove, who shared an early video of the trio on Soul Train on Instagram, wrote in a heartfelt tribute, "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 think even Jay[-Z] told me his first album he ever copped was their debut album. I mean yeah now we all take for granted that traditional music really isn't needed to cold rock a party. But to see THESE cats rock it back then???! OMG! they were the first stadium hip hop headliners… Rest In Peace to Mark Morales, the Puerto Rican Prince, the Fat Boy....#PrinceMarkieDee."
"So sad 2 hear of the legendary @PrinceMarkieDee of the Fat Boys' passing," he wrote. "One of my childhood idols & favorite mc's of all time. Left us way 2 soon. He will truly be missed."
DJ Premier also took to social media to mourn Dee's death, writing, "Sad loss to lose Prince Markie Dee of the Iconic "Disco 3" who later became "The Fat Boys"... R.I.P. KING...Condolences To Your Family... @PrinceMarkieDee R.I.P. BUFF LOVE."