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