One of the most influential executives in hip hop, Chris Lighty, was found dead in an apparent suicide Thursday. Lighty, founder of Violator – a successful record label and marketing group, started his career when he used to carry crates of records for DJ Red Alert. He joinded Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen’s Rush Artist Management afterwards and then formed Violator while also holding executive positions at Def Jam and other recording labels.
Known for his visionary moves, Lighty paved the way for today’s hip hop artists in expanding their brands in various industries, starting off with LL Cool J’s GAP commercial which essentially broke down hip hop’s exclusivity and making the genre more mainstream.
Aside from LL Cool J, Lighty also managed huge stars like Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Sean “Diddy” Combs and also Ja Rule.
The hip hop world grieves and many notable artists expressed their sadness via Twitter. Mary J Blige tweeted “U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living” while Nicki Minaj said “Another tragic & inconceivable loss for the culture.” A little bit ironic to what Lighty said to Billboard last July: “We’re constantly trying to move the culture forward,” as he referred to hip hop’s foray into the mainstream business world, using its artists and music.
The HipHopPress family would like to extend our deepest condolences to Lighty’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.