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Jay-Z, Eminem, and More Mourn the Death of Mark the 45 King

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The hip hop community is in mourning following the tragic death of legendary Flavor Unit DJ, Mark the 45 King, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 62. The Bronx native produced several songs on Queen Latifah’s debut album All Hail the Queen, including her breakout hit, “Ladies First.”

He was also behind classic hits like Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” and Eminem’s “Stan.”

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Jay-Z expressed his gratitude and admiration for Mark in a statement shared on social media, stating, “Thank you Mark, your instrumentals, namely ‘The 900 Number,’ were more memorable than our whole albums. You gave me a canvas to have a conversation with the world!! You changed my life,” concluding with, “Even when life is short, the art is long!!”

Eminem also paid tribute to The 45 King, tweeting, “Legends are never over. #RIP Mark Howard James aka The 45 King … I’m 4ever grateful!!!,” alongside a link to a YouTube video of Mark explaining how he created the beat for “Stan.”

Mark The 45 King, born Mark Howard James, passed away on Wednesday (October 18), just two days after celebrating his 62nd birthday.  While no cause of death has been revealed, he had reportedly been battling illness for some time and was in and out of the hospital. The news of his passing was initially shared by DJ Premier, who posted a heartfelt statement on Instagram.

DJ Premier, in his tribute to The 45 King, highlighted his immense contributions to hip-hop culture. He praised Mark’s distinctive sound, particularly his impactful use of heavy drums and unique horn arrangements on his productions.

“Mark is responsible for so many classics and was a member of the Iconic Crew FLAVOR UNIT… His sound was unlike any other from his heavy drums and his horns were so distinct on every production,” DJ Premier wrote in his tribute to The 45 King. 

DJ Premier also shared a poignant moment he had with Mark, revealing he got to talk to The 45 King one last time as he laid in the hospital the day before he passed away.

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“Thanks Dave Lotwin (D & D) for Facetiming me Tuesday in the hospital to salute him 1 last time before he transitioned. I know he heard me loud and clear. Condolences to his brother Mike and his sister. It’s so much more to say but I’ll leave it here. Sleep Peacefully Mark thank you for all that you’ve done. Such a nice person.

You’re such a special part of our culture that is chiseled in the stone of the greatest parts of us. LOVE YOU MARK.”

Tributes to The 45 King have also poured in from Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Young Guru, and more.

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