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By JayQuan

The Puerto Rican Prince

Mark Morales was a standout in his group the Disco 3 (later re named The Fat Boys) from day one. He was barely fat for starters. Relative to his group members Damon "Kool Rock Ski" Wimbley and Darren "Human Beat Box" Robinson he was a "regular" sized guy. It wasn't until stardom and a lifestyle that started to mimic the video for their hit All You Can Eat that Mark started to earn his group moniker.

Prior to 1983 when the music world first became aware of the Disco 3 via their debut single Reality there were Puerto Rican M.C.'s like Tito from the Fearless 4, Whipper Whip and Rubie Dee of The Fantastic 5 and Mr. Schick of The Mean Machine. Morales more famously known as Prince Markie Dee was the first Puerto Rican super star in the genre.

The Human Beat Box and Prince Markie Dee photo courtesy Robert Spiegel

Solidifying their dominance in the "Fresh Festival" era of rap music on the tour of the same name that included Newcleus, Whodini, Run - DMC and Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys breezed past their contemporaries right into the world of Hollywood with endorsements, celebrity collaborations (Chubby Checker and The Beach Boys) and major Hollywood motion pictures. Along with Buff Love aka The Human Beat Box and Kool Rock Ski, Prince Markie Dee was literally a major part of the face of rap music from 1984 -1987. Long before Big Pun, Fat Joe and N.O.R.E. Markie Dee represented The Island.

The Exploitation

I've always maintained that The Fat Boys were exploited by their management and that exploitation negatively impacted their legacy as M.C's. The Disco 3 were rappers who happened to be large. After the first Fat Boys album their size began to take a front seat. There was once a contest where the public was asked to guess the combined weight of the group - much like one guesses how many jelly beans are in a jar.

Everyone remembers Disorderlies, the 3 Stooges like motion picture that made them famous outside of the world of music, but not many recall the authentic energy and most importantly the clever rhymes that caught the attention and imagination of a generation 5 years after our parents told us that rap music wouldn't last a month. Even in the days before rap music was a recorded genre, M.C's mesmerized listeners with extravagant and imaginative fictional rhymes. The "story telling" rhymes were and still are a powerful tool in the arsenal of the versatile M.C.

On In The Place To Be from the Fat Boys debut self titled album Markie Dee spits a rhyme about Spider Man that kept us all glued to our radios. Coming from the same tradition as the dozens of "Superman rhymes" that every rapper had in their note books (Big Bank Hank of The Sugar Hill Gang said one borrowed from Grandmaster Caz on Rappers Delight) Markie Dee showed early that the Fat Boys were more than just a group with catchy hooks (sung by Alyson Williams), slick guitar work with chunky bass lines and fly piano riffs (courtesy of Davy DMX, Larry Smith and Don Blackman respectively). These guys were students of the art form.

With each album The Fat Boys gained a bigger and broader fan base. By the time that the movies and celebrity collaborations came around, songs like In The Place To Be, Stick 'Em and The Human Beat Box were all but abandoned - a pattern that artists of every genre have to follow when they record for major record labels. The rhyme skills exhibited on the first 3 Fat Boys albums were forgotten by all except the most loyal and dedicated fans (Protect Yourself/My Nuts from the 4th album kept the diehard fans fed).

The Aftermath

By 1991 Kool Rock Ski and Buffy were a duo releasing Mack Daddy on Itchiban records and Prince Markie Dee was releasing music as Prince Markie Dee and The Soul Convention on Columbia. More lucratively Markie Dee started producing and remixing for Andre Harell's (R.I.P.) Uptown Records working with Father M.C., Jodeci , Al B. Sure and Mary J Blige. Later he produced for Mariah Carey and released his own albums on Columbia and Motown. Not bad for a Puerto Rican brother from East New York.

Rest In Paradise.

Mark is preceded in death by Darren "Human Beat Box" Robinson aka Buff Love The Ox That Rocks who passed in 1995.

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