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Prince Markie Dee Of The Fat Boys Has Died

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Songwriter, MC and founding member of the Fat Boys Mark Morales has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAT BOYS")

AUTOMATED VOICE: Fat, fat, fat boys.

CORNISH: Performing as Prince Markie Dee, Morales co-founded the trio, along with Darren "The Human Beatbox" Robinson and Damon "Kool Rock-Ski" Wimbley.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAT BOYS")

MARK MORALES: (Rapping) Markie Dee, but you can call me the prince. And I have a slight problem that I couldn't solve since I'm overtired...

CORNISH: Discovered at a talent show at Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn teenagers called themselves the Disco 3. A promoter suggested the Fat Boys moniker. They brought the art of beatboxing to the masses, and Morales brought a bright and witty touch to their lyrics.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE PLACE TO BE")

MORALES: (Rapping) Now this is the story - I'ma tell it as I can - about Peter Parker, known as Spiderman. Swung from building to building, from tree to tree, and sometimes mingled with the young ladies.

CORNISH: By 1984, they were among hip-hop's best known mainstream acts. In a 2013 interview on SiriusXM, Morales remembered what it was like headlining the genre's first arena tour along with Run-DMC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORALES: Me and Run was standing next to each other. And we're looking at 32,000 seats sold out. And we couldn't believe how everyone was there to see us. We just couldn't embrace it. Like, we really was there in shock. Like, it really hit us. Like, I'm from Brooklyn, like, from the corner, you know? I rap on the corner, you know, of Brooklyn, and why are they here to see me? Like, this is something new. This is something big. And it was just a amazing ride from them.

CORNISH: After the Fat Boys disbanded, Morales became a sought-after producer and songwriter, helping to pen hits for the likes of Mary J. Blige.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REAL LOVE")

MARY J BLIGE: (Singing) Real love. I'm searching for the a love.

CORNISH: In the last few years, Prince Markie Dee had been a radio personality in Miami. His death on Thursday sparked an outpouring of remembrances from the hip-hop community, including Questlove, Eminem and Fat Joe, who called him a legend and pioneer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TYPICAL REASONS (SWING MY WAY)")

MORALES: (Rapping) One minute you're so fly, and now you're busted.

CORNISH: As of yet, no cause of death has been announced. Mark Morales, Prince Markie Dee, died yesterday, one day shy of his 53rd birthday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TYPICAL REASONS (SWING MY WAY)")

MORALES: (Rapping) So maybe you need to swing my way, my way. Markie Dee can do you right in a fly way, fly way. I'm the one you should choose. girl, you won't be abused, so maybe you need to swing my way, my way. Maybe you need to swing my way, my way. Markie Dee can do you right in a fly way, fly way. Not like the man you're with now, I keep my hands to myself, so maybe you need to swing my way, my way. Mistreated and used like a towel... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.