Prince Markie Dee, aka Mark Morales, best known as one of the original three founding members of the pioneering hip-hop group The Fat Boys, died suddenly Thursday at age 52. His passing was confirmed on Twitter by the group’s manager, Louis Gregory. No cause of death has been revealed.
“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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/XcIsHixOoc
— Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory (@UncleLouie) February 18, 2021
Mark Anthony Morales (Prince Markie Dee), Darren Robinson (the Human Beatbox) and Damon Wimbley (Kool Rock Ski) were originally known as The Disco 3, but later became The Fat Boys. 1983 they won a Radio City Music Hall talent show and the rest is history.
They went on to become pioneers of early hip-hop, bringing beatboxing into the mainstream and peaking with the 1987 platinum album Crushin’ and a key part in comedy film Disorderlies that same year.
Among the group’s hits were “Jail House Rap,” “Can You Feel It? and “The Fat Boys Are Back.” Their biggest pop hit was their Crushin’ cover of “Wipeout,” with the Beach Boys, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later, the group’s cover version of “The Twist” with Chubby Checker from Coming Back Hard Again hit No.16 on the Hot 100.
Prince moved on to a solo career after The Fat Boys, signing with Columbia Records and releasing his debut album “Free” in 1992, featuring his chart-topping single, “Typical Reasons (Swing My Way).” He also wrote and produced songs for Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige, including her first top ten hit “Real Love”.
Later in his career, he became a popular radio host at WMIB in Miami, and also had his own show, The Prince Markie Dee Show, SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station.
His groupmate, Darren “Buff Love” Robinson died in 1995 of a heart attack. Damon “Kool Rock-Ski” Wimbley is now the only surviving member.
“They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time,” Questlove wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. “Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it … They were so dope we just took them for granted. They did dope routines & dancesteps, albums went gold & platinum. Did movies & tv & commercials. They explored territories for the first time that today just seems like *yawn* a Tuesday.”
Memorial plans have yet to be announced at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Morales’ family and friends. Rest in peace.