Where Are They Now? : The Fat Boys

As one-third of the Legendary Fat Boys, Prince Markie Dee has made a name for himself beyond the recording booth and into the boardroom.

The man responsible for allowing 50 Cent to sign his first record deal has been quietly working behind the scenes, building talent and emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Armed with the rush hour timeslot on Miami’s 103.5 The Beat, Markie Dee remains in touch with the first love of his life—Hip Hop—every weekday from 3 to 7 PM.

But to be honest, that same first love of his life erased the legacy of his group from the minds of a much younger generation. While names like LL Cool J and Run-DMC have managed to stay relevant, The Fat Boys have not. Even though the breakup affected, and inspired the lyrics of Nas and Jay-Z, The Fat Boys have seemingly fallen off the map and into the history books. To an extent, Markie Dee accepts the hand Hip-Hop has dealt him. But there are a few things he won’t tolerate—the tarnished legacy of Buffy, the Human Beatbox, and falling deeper into obesity.

AllHipHop.com: People may not be aware of what you’ve been up to since ‘92, which is when you kind of hung the mic up as a rapper for the most part. What brought you to Miami since then?

Markie Dee: One was, I got a little boy down here, which is the main reason why I came down here. Two was, business-wise, I was manager producer. I was reppin it for a guy named Troy Oliver, who [produced] a lot of Jennifer Lopez records. I broke out a deal with Sony [that] kicked off with a publishing production situation. My partner was working on his stuff then. So when I left to come down here, he was on cruise control. I really didn’t have to do that office-to-office hustle, trying to get in work. A lot of work was coming to me and my boy was planning to live there. So it was easy to transition for me to get down here ’cause it was just a matter of picking up the phone, and setting up the studio for him, and working out the situation. Once I got down to Miami, you know, it was a good way for me to network, a good way to get my name out again down here, and to increase the new business. And then one thing led to another, and you know, and I ended up doing afternoon stuff, you know? This radio thing kind of fell in my lap.

AllHipHop.com: Speaking of business, I was reading that you had a hand in getting 50 Cent his deal a couple years back. Is that right?

Markie Dee: Yeah, actually, if you ever see in the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’, there’s a part on the movie when he’s walking around and the label didn’t want to meet with them. That was actually me and my friend Andrew McKay who were taking him around to labels. Because of his—I don’t want to say, negative—hype, but because of his gangsta hype, a lot of labels didn’t want to deal with him. We were interested in working situations like that out. I was trying with another one of my best friends, Corey Rooney, who was a big wig over at Sony, and now he has in a new record situation. Corey was responsible for signing him and approaching to Jam Master Jay. Me and him would arrive at the studio all the time. I was almost in a position where I was kind of a manager to him, but I wasn’t a manager to him. He was more of a friend that was getting in with a good friend. I was just kind of being like the in-between guy. 50 is a good dude man. The most memorable memory I have about 50 Cent is being with him and talking to him and him telling me, “Mark, when I blow up, you watch, I’m gonna change the whole game.” And that sort of stuck with me. After I see him sell 10 million records it’s like, “Damn, it’s crazy.” I had to interview him not too long ago. I brought that up to him and he remembered specifically when he told me that.

AllHipHop.com: That’s real crazy man. Real crazy. What I’d like to do right now is take it back a little bit to the beginning, you know. I know y’all from Brooklyn. First of all, what part of Brooklyn were you guys from?

Markie Dee: East New York. That’s where we started. I was a big football fanatic, playing street football, little league football, peewee football. I stopped in high school and that’s when the rap thing started. I don’t know if you remember this group called the Bad Boys. They were in East New York, like locally, and we used to kind of like be under their wing. What rap was to us was a hobby; just a way to express ourselves. And then we heard about this concert sponsored by the radio called the “Tin Pan Apple Dance and Rap Contest.” We were like, “We’re gonna go to the concert and we’re gonna win this thing.” [But really] our hope was that they’d win, and when they win and they would put us on. Long story short, we ended up going and we said, “Hey, last second.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Krush Groove, but in the movie we were like, “Yeah, let’s join, f**k it.” So we joined, and we actually won the whole thing. It’s funny, ‘cause the whole ride back, they were looking at us all screw-faced, like “Oh, you bastards.”

AllHipHop.com: It’s funny how that stuff goes. How did the three of you guys first meet? Were you friends from around the neighborhood?

Markie Dee: We literally lived across the street from each other. Me and Cool Rock played football everyday on the street. One day, we see this big fat kid and we introduced ourselves. We started kickin’ it and we asked him if he wanted to play football with us—we used to play tackle football. No equipment, in the streets. Everybody wanted him on their side ‘cause he was young and nobody could tackle him—he would run so hard. So, we ended up getting cool and one day, he was like, “Yo, check this out.” He started beatboxing and we’re like, “Holy s**t.” He was mad nice.

AllHipHop.com: How did you come up with the name Disco 3 from that beginning? Where did you get that from?

Markie Dee: The name Disco 3 was a playoff of one of favorite old school groups, the Disco 4. We literally, I mean, of course, Disco has nothing to do with rap but I guess Disco at that point was just used to describe a good feeling, like a good feeling, to the Hip-Hop community.

AllHipHop.com: And it’s known that the “Fat Boys” name came supposedly from uh, you had a big tab at breakfast, you know what I’m sayin, like, is that real?

Markie Dee: [Laughs] That was just a promotional idea that my manager had. It was just to put a story to why our name was the Fat Boys. But the truth is, the real reason was everytime someone would book us for our show, they called us Fat Boys. So then my manager had the great idea, and you know what? Everybody bought into the “Fat Boys.” He thought that’d be a great idea to just change our name, and have a big party for it. And we ended up doing that.

AllHipHop.com: There was a comedic element to the group that was very light-hearted, very positive. Did you think that, at some point, the gimmick might have gone South…that it eventually led into the break-up?

Markie Dee: Most definitely. Honestly, in my opinion, was that musically, it killed the group. I think we could’ve been around a lot longer—musically—if we would’ve stayed to our roots. See, in the beginning we tried to keep it light-hearted. We tried to entertain everybody as opposed to really talking about struggling and talking about so many negative things. We tried to keep people happy and try to influence people. [We never rapped about] the group having personal issues, like weight, or other things like that. We tried to keep it whole-hearted, and what happened was we ended up doing this record, “Wipe Out” with The Beach Boys. It was a great record, and it was on our biggest album. It sold two million copies of that album, no question. But after that, my whole idea was to take it back to what we had originally done on our first album: A lot of beatboxing and just keeping it hood. But our management [kept us from doing that.] Back in the day, because we felt like whatever he said was the law, we had no knowledge of the situation. We were just growing up and learning as we went along. He always wanted to do a record with Chubby Checker and I think that was our downfall- the Pop side of it. AllHipHop.com: But at the same time, historically speaking, the Fat Boys influenced the musical careers of many major artists in Hip-Hop. How do you feel about that influence you’ve had?

Markie Dee: That feels great man, but we don’t get remembered a lot in the public eye. You know what I did for the business and what I’ve accomplished. When I die, I can look back at my life like, “Wow. Mark you did good. You raised the children good. You did what you had to do.” The only thing that bothers me is that my boy Buff, who passed away, is not acknowledged much. There was always an argument about him and Doug E. Fresh about who is the original beatboxer, you know. For the record, let me just say, Doug E. is a great friend of mine, and we heard about Doug E. about the same time we met Buff. So, Doug E. was doin’ it before us. We came out and made it mainstream. We were able to sell a lot of records doing it, and I would never take anything away from Doug E. [But] When I see the VH1 Hip Hop Honors, in a sense, I hope they don’t call us. I just want to sit back and chill [personally]. But on the other side of it, I want to be acknowledged for Buff, because I think that he deserves so much more.

AllHipHop.com: Speaking of Buff, he had a number of legal woes. I think Queen Pen was underage—if I’m not mistaken—and she’s his baby’s mom. Do you think that the struggles that he went through maybe affected the group somehow?

Markie Dee: No. For the record, the Queen Pen situation, I think you’re mixing it up with another situation he had in Pennsylvania. Queen Pen was of age when they had their child together. But there was another situation in Pennsylvania when somebody that was with Buff um, got into trouble with an underage [offense]. Buff was there and the situation kind of got a little twisted. But it got straightened away and he was cleared of everything. I don’t think that any of that stuff would contribute to a downfall.

AllHipHop.com: Now I want to ask you a loaded question. How’s your health? You know, you guys were known as the Fat Boys and I know you didn’t have the healthiest of diets, you know what I’m saying. Have you made any changes? How’s your health in general?

Markie Dee: Well about maybe two years ago, I was, um, more than 430 pounds. One day, I was going to a Dolphins game with my little son. I parked the car in the parking lot, I walked past the entrance with my son, and I fall back into my seat. I’m drenched with sweat, my back is hurting and I’m completely out of breath. It was sort of like a breaking point for me. I was just like, “Aight, I can’t do this no more.” [My doctor then said] “Mark, you’re gonna die young. You don’t want to die. You’re a candidate for heart disease.” That turned my whole life around. Like I said, I can’t let my son grow up without me, you know? I started dieting, and since then, I’ve lost 122 pounds.

AllHipHop.com: That’s what’s up. I want to shift gears and maybe go back to the ‘80s real quick and maybe want to ask you about Fresh Fest, because that is one of the most legendary tours in Hip-Hop history. Could you tell me about that experience?

Markie Dee: It was great. I don’t know if you ever heard the story of how it started, but it was originally one show in Atlanta, Georgia at the Omni. The Omni sold out in like the first two days. So based on that show alone, another 40 shows were added, and the 40 shows turned into like 80 by the end of the tour. We felt it, everybody felt that energy. I remember talking with Run. standing on the side and seeing like 22,000 people at the Omni. We’re just looking at each other like, “These kids came to see us?”

AllHipHop.com: Were there any crazy stories you just want to share? Like, specifics, like backstage craziness? You know?

Markie Dee: We could be on the phone for hours, let me tell you. If someone ever came to help me write a book, oh my goodness. You wouldn’t believe it. One time we’re in Connecticut and Buff and Kool Rock, they were literally practical jokers all the time. He knocked over a cop’s motorcycle, this White cop. I’m not saying this is true, but the vibe I caught from the cop was like, “Why are these damn n***ers in my town?” So it was funny because they knocked over the motorcycle by accident, f**king around, and the guy tried to lock them up. The sergeant came around—and he was a Black sergeant—and he diffused the whole situation for us. But this guy was like, “Lock them up. Throw away the keys.” [Laughs]

AllHipHop.com: You know, Jay-Z and Nas each rapped about how it hurt them as youngsters to see The Fat Boys break up. Did you ever think the break would affect fans so deeply, almost two decades later?

Markie Dee: It totally amazes me how after all these years we still get love from so many different levels of people in the music biz. Funny thing about Jay….Back in the days Jay used to roll with [Jaz-O] and Jaz and I used to make freestyle tapes just for like, bangin’ in our rides. Jay-Z used to ask [if he] could he get on the freestyles, and we were like, “Uh, next one maybe,” and now look at him. So, in essence, I used to tell one of the greatest rappers of all time, “Nah, you can’t get on this freestyle with us.” [Laughs]