Thu 30 Aug 2012
Aggressive, gregarious, and infinitely connected…Chris Lighty, one of hip hop’s most successful middle men, is dead at the age of 44. According to sources close to Chris and his team, he was found dead at home in the Bronx earlier today by his wife and his bodyguard. Chris allegedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police confirmed to the New York Times that they are investigating the death as a suicide. Meanwhile, the New York Daily News cited unnamed sources that told them Chris shot himself after arguing with his estranged wife, Veronica:
“Lighty, 44…stepped outside his South Riverdale apartment about 11:30 a.m., after a spat with his wife, Veronica, police sources said.
Suddenly, a gun shot was heard and Lighty was found lying faceup with a 9-mm. pistol next to his body, sources said.”
Despite these troublesome circumstances, many in the music industry who knew Chris Lighty are remembering his vast influence and experience. Born in the same Bronx River Houses as hip hop music itself, Lighty got his first crack at the music business by carrying record crates for DJ Red Alert. He was known then as Baby Chris, the youngster of Red Alert’s Violator crew. Then he became the road manager for The Jungle Brothers, and from there, Lighty was recruited by Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons to work for RUSH Management. But Chris became a power player in his own right when he started his own Violator Management company, wheeling and dealing for clients like Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Diddy, Mariah Carey…and most famously, 50 Cent.
In 2000, as the “music lifestyle editor” for Vibe Magazine, I wrote a feature about hip hop’s most influential siblings. There were the Dashes (Damon, Darren, Bobby), the Ronsons (Mark, Sam, Charlotte), the Deans (Chivonne, Darrin, Waah), the Rifkins (Steve, Jon, and Rich Isaacson),…and the opening spread was Chris Lighty, playing ball at his Jersey mansion, alongside his brothers Dave, Jonathan and Mike. What I remember most about that project and all the times that I worked with Chris afterwards, was his intensity, wealth of experience, and a brutal honesty that comes with self-confidence. Condolences go out to his family, his kids, his team, and his artists.
Read about Chris Lighty and his brothers (Vibe, 2000)…
Check out Chris Lighty’s Road Manager Rules To Live By (Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists, 1999)…
Watch Chris Lighty’s cameo in De La Soul’s legendary “Buddy” video…
Watch Chris Lighty speak on his career and the music business (with Al Lindstrom, 2011)
After the jump
Can you find, Chris’ cameo in this classic De La Soul x A Tribe Called Quest x Monie Love x Queen Latifah “Buddy” video?
Watch Part 1 of Chris Lighty’s in-depth interview with Al Lindstrom (Part 2 can be seen here):
(photos via DJ Soul, Julia Beverly, NCB, Chris Lighty’s twitter, Forbes)
Chris Lighty’s own thoughts on the grueling nature of the music business, via his blog, 2010:
It has been a minute since my last blog but I am back with a few topics that I felt relevant enough to share at this level. The title really says it all for me. I have tell you I always meet people and even have family members that think just because I am in the music business so should they be and why aren’t I giving out the free handout. This is a business and despite all the glamour and glitz there are people really breaking their necks on an individual and team basis.I have 16 to 18 hour days and try to juggle my business,a wife,a family and people think it is easy. The best is when my friends from the hood decide this is their new meal ticket and don’t understand why they aren’t rolling in the dough and take offense when they aren’t being catered to as if they were a client and not someone trying to get on. I am very grateful to be in this business as something interesting is always going on and we are at a crossroads where the expansion of our business whether thru the digital realm or the brand marketing angle are creating new opportunities and income streams. That being said everyone should chase their dreams but remember it is up to you to make your dreams come true. The next man or woman shouldn’t have their career used as your personal spring board. You have to find your lane and make it work!!!! Next blog: New york hip hop and the new york state of mind. stay tuned
UPDATE: A collection of reactions from Diddy, Rev Run, and more…via Billboard