Hip-Hop Impresario Chris Lighty Dead at Age 44

In Memoriam: Chris Lighty (1968-2012)

Can we please have several moments of silence for Chris Lighty, a visionary manager of hip-hop stars, who passed away on Thursday (Aug. 30) at age 44.

According to the New York Daily News, the Hip-Hop mogul was found dead at his Bronx apartment from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Authorities did recover a black semi-automatic pistol at the scene. Sources in law enforcement also told the newspaper that Lighty was going through some personal and financial struggles, including owing the IRS $5 million in unpaid taxes.

Mr. Lighty (aka "Baby Chris") started his career in the late 1980s working at Russell Simmons' RUSH Management firm and learning the ropes of the music business under the tutelage of Lyor Cohen at Def Jam Recordings. He later founded Violator Entertainment, which managed a roster of hip-hop's biggest rap superstars including 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Jungle Brothers, LL Cool J and many others. He was instrumental in introducing corporate America to hip-hop and helped rap artists with branding themselves to fashion labels and sneaker companies during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

It was Lighty who convinced Gap to have LL Cool J promote its apparel and he secured endorsement deals for Busta Rhymes (with Mountain Dew) and A Tribe Called Quest (with Sprite's "Obey Your Thirst" campaign). Lighty also brokered an investment deal between 50 Cent and Glaceau (makers of Vitamin water) in 2004. Two years later, Coca-Cola buys out Glaceau for $1.2 billion and Fiddy pockets an estimated $60-100 million.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of a hip-hop hero," said Russell Simmons in a statement. "Chris Lighty has been a dear friend of mine since he was a kid. Was a brilliant partner in business and I was so proud of all that he had accomplished. He is an amazing example of how a passionate kid from the street can go to the most even-keeled, smart, thoughtful manager in the business and a generous philanthropist. He was loved by everyone who knew him, including me. He will be missed greatly by all of us."

Moments after hearing the devastating news, the hip-hop community took to Twitter to share their condolences.

Rest in Power, Chris Lighty. You were a visionary in the rap game and your impact will be forever felt in hip-hop. Thank you. Heartfelt condolences to the Lighty Family.

Remembering the 'Bad Girl': Donna Summer (1948 - 2012)

Donna Summer (1948 - 2012)


I know I'm terribly late with this obituary, but I would be remiss if I didn't pay tribute to the "Bad Girl" Donna Summer.

Now I'm talking about "bad" as in good. And in the case of Donna Summer, she was absolutely dynamite. As far as I'm concerned, she was the true sex symbol of the disco era. Next to Blaxiplotiation queen Pam Grier, Donna Summer was my chocolate fantasy. Sadly, this truly gifted artist is no longer here with us.

Can we please have a moment of silence for...

LaDonna Adrian Gaines, better known as Donna Summer, who passed away on May 17 at the age of 63 after a long battle with lung cancer. The veteran songbird died her home on Manasota Key in Englewood, Fla., after a battle with the disease. Summer was laid to rest on May 23 in Nashville. Among the A-list mourners in attendance included Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie.

"Donna was a wonderful woman, who was a force to be reckoned with," said Summer's biographer Mark Eliot. "She changed music and was a good family woman and good Christian. She will be missed."

Born and raised in a religious Boston family, Summer became the Queen of Disco at the age of 27 with the 1975 song "Love to Love You Baby," which was produced by the Italian disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. The song became a global sensation -- 17 minutes of a woman moaning in a state of ecstasy -- and for awhile, was banned on radio. Summer also made waves in the disco era with her chart-topping dance anthems "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "On the Radio" and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)."

By 1983, she'd moved past the disco sound and into R&B/pop sound with the girl-power anthem "She Works Hard For the Money."

Summer is a five-time Grammy Award winner and was the first female artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also received two Golden Globes, six American Music Awards, one NAACP Image Award and was the first black female to receive an MTV Video Music Awards nomination. Sadly, although she has been nominated for induction into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she hasn't been selected.

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The Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown Dead at 75


Chuck Brown Moves The Crowd

We can please have a moment of silence for...

Chuck Brown, a pioneer in Go-Go music, who passed away at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore on May 16 at the age of 75. The legendary guitarist-songwriter, who had been hospitalized for pneumonia, died from complications related to sepsis, according to his manager Tom Goldfogle.

Brown (with his band the Soul Searchers) was a major figurehead of go-go and its music scene in the Washington, D.C.-area, which inspired countless of local bands including Trouble Funk and Experience Unlimited (aka E.U.). A few of his classic songs like "Bustin Loose" and "Blow Your Whistle" were sampled by rappers Nelly (for 'Hot in Herre') and Eve ('Tambourine'), respectively. In the '80s, tunes like "We Need Some Money," "Run Joe," and "Go-Go Swing" became mainstay anthems in the go-go scene.

Mr. Brown continue to performed tirelessly before his death. "I'm not retired because I'm not tired," he told the Washington Post in 2006. "I'm still getting hired, and I'm still inspired. As long as I can walk up on that stage, I want to make people happy. I want to make people dance." That he did.

Among Brown's last performances was with the Philadelphia band the Roots at the "Wawa Welcome America" concert in front of the Art Museum on July 4, 2010. Mr. Brown would later jam with the Roots again at their 7th annual Jam Session in conjunction with the 2011 Grammy Awards Weekend Series in Los Angeles. "Damn DC: Long Live The Legacy Of The Immortal Sound of Mr Chuck Brown!" tweeted Roots drummer Questlove.

Brown's final album was  his 3-disc CD/DVD set We Got This, which was release in September 2010. The lead single from the collection was "Love" featuring Jill Scott and bassist Marcus Miller. "Ohhhh Chuck!!!!! R.I.P., Dear friend and lover of the original beat, your music captivated and lifted. You will be MISSED!!!!" wrote Jill Scott.

Brown described go-go music as a love affair between him and his fans. "It's about love, the communication between performer and audience," he said. "When you're on stage, the people put that love to you and you give it back. There's no other music like it."

Chuck Brown is survived by his wife, several children including two sons Wiley and Nekos Brown, and daughter Cherita Whiting, and several grandchildren.

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New Video: Beastie Boys x LL Cool J Live in London (1986)


Beastie Boys


In tribute to the late Adam Yauch (aka MCA), London DJ Tim Westwood posted this rare video of the Beastie Boys going berserk onstage at the 1986 Raising Hell Tour featuring Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Whodini.

During the trio's performance of 'Slow and Low," MCA jumped into the audience to crowd surf and falls straight to the ground (I don't think the Londoners were familiar with crowd surfing at the time). No worries, he got up and was able to continue with his performance. And yep, that's a young and scrappy Lyor Cohen jumping into the fray as a couple of dudes were about to fight with MCA.

It was certainly a wild night. Props to Tim Westwood for posting this classic footage.


Rest in Power to MCA!


Remembering Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, of the Beastie Boys


Adam "MCA" Yauch (1964-2012)

We can we please have a moment of silence for...

Adam Yauch, one of the founding members of the influential rap group The Beastie Boys. The 47-year-old rapper passed away on May 4 after a three-year bout with cancer. In 2009, Yauch was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland and had to undergo surgery. At the time, Yauch described the cancer as "very treatable."

Yauch reportedly was hospitalized on April 14 in New York, and his condition deteriorated rapidly soon after. His wife, Dechen Wangdu, and 13-year-old daughter, Tenzin, were at his bedside Friday when he died.

Not only was Yauch a great emcee he was also a great humanitarian having help organize the series of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts and being an avowed Buddhist. In addition, he was a phenomenal filmmaker, helming many of the band's videos (under the alias Nathaniel Hornblower) and directing the 2008 high school basketball documentary Gunnin' for That #1 Spot and most recently the short film, Fight for Your Right Revisited.

As for the music, with fellow members Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, the Beastie Boys produced several chart-topping albums including their classic 1986 debut LP License to Ill and their 1989 sample-heavy masterpiece Paul's Boutique.

"Adam was incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist, who I loved dearly," said Russell Simmons who signed the Beastie Boys to Def Jam Recordings. "I was always inspired by his work. He will be missed by all of us."

"The music world has lost an Icon and I lost a brother," said DJ Mix Master Mike who work with the Beasties on their 1998 Grammy Award-winning album Hello Nasty. "I give thanks to Adam Yauch for allowing me to be apart of the Beastie legacy. I am so honored to have graced the stage with my idols for 15 historic years. My Condolences go out to the Yauch family."

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.


I think LL Cool J's eulogy sums up how the hip-hop community feels about the loss of Adam Yauch.

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