Founding Member of Hip-Hop Group The Fat Boys, Prince Markie Dee, Dies at 52

(Photo credit: Prince Markie Dee Instagram)

Mark Anthony Morales, better known as Prince Markie Dee, of the legendary ’80s rap group The Fat Boys has passed away at the age of 52.

Details surrounding Morales’ death are very scarce at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped fans from all over the world taking to social media to pay tribute to the late emcee. Rock The Bells, where he worked as a radio host and DJ, tweeted their condolences on Thursday (Feb. 18). “The Rock The Bells family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mark ‘Prince Markie Dee’ Morales earlier today,” the official page tweeted. “That voice and his presence can never be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

Morales was born on February 19, 1968. He established Disco 3 together with Darren Robinson and Damon Wimbley in the early 1980s. After winning a talent contest at the Radio City Music Hall in 1983, they signed a contract with the promoter of the show. The promoter recommended the group to rename themselves to The Fat Boys, in reference to their weight.

The Fat Boys were one of hip-hop’s first major success stories. Being an early superstar on the hip-hop scene, Morales was typically viewed as the leader of the group known to rap with energy and passion while remaining funny and intelligent at the same time. The trio of Morales as Prince Markie Dee, Darren “Buff Love (The Human Beat Box)” Robinson, and Damon Wimbley aka Kool Rock-Ski were originally named “The Disco 3,” but later changed to “The Fat Boys” which stuck with them for the remainder of their career. Starting out in 1983, Morales and the crew won a talent show that put them in the bright lights of New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

The three expertly mixed rhyme skills, beat-boxing ability, and humor to create some of the most accessible hip-hop of the time. The first three albums, which were produced by Kurtis Blow, were all successful and birthed hits like “Jail House Rap,” “Can You Feel It?,” and “The Fat Boys Are Back.”

But things went to another level in 1987 when they released the platinum-selling Crushin‘, which was a top 10 hit and featured the biggest single of their career —”Wipe Out,” a rock-inspired song that featured an appearance from The Beach Boys.

The Fat Boys quickly went from just rappers to being full-fledged celebrities, appearing in Swatch commercials and starring in movies like Krush Groove (1985) and Disorderlies (1987). They also famously headlined The Fresh Fest — one of hip-hop’s first major tours — and were successful touring Europe back when rappers couldn’t leave The States. The Fat Boys’ final album came in 1989 with the release of On and On. They split up, and Prince Markie Dee went solo while Buff Love and Kool Rock Ski put out Mack Daddy. (In 1995, Buff died of cardiac arrest. He was only 28 and reportedly weighed over 400 pounds.)

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Morales stayed more involved with the music industry as the Fat Boys went their separate ways by the late 80s into the 90s, by becoming a music executive as well as a songwriter and producer for Mary J. Blige, J. Lo, Ariana Grande, Frank Ocean, Destiny’s Child and many others. He also took his talents to Miami, Florida, and became a radio jock for stations in the area. Morales also began a solo career and signed with Columbia Records. He released his debut album Free in 1992, which spawned the No. 1 hit single, “Typical Reasons (Swing My Way).” From 2008-2010, the New York native worked as a radio host for 103.5 The Beat WMIB radio in Miami.

Most recently, Morales took over the midday slot that his friend and ailing friend and fellow rapper Biz Markie vacated on LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Radio on Sirius/XM. You would hear Morales with his booming voice, smiling tone, and wild stories entertaining his listeners.

Back when he was 43, Prince lost 175 pounds in the last six years … down from 450. He told TMZ, “I am not young anymore. I cant go eat a couple of Big Macs a day and not worry about it. I have to watch what I eat and care about my diet. I have kids to live for.”

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