August 31, 2012

Remembering Chris Lighty, Hip-Hop Leader And My Friend from NPR Music

Chris Lighty, who managed and guided the careers of hip-hop and pop stars like A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Diddy, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey — was found dead Thursday of what authorities said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to the New York Daily News, the 44-year-old founder of Violator Management shot himself outside of his home in the Bronx following an argument with his estranged wife.

Remembering Chris Lighty, Hip-Hop Leader And My Friend
by Danyel Smith former editor of Billboard and Vibe

He was a big man, Chris Lighty.

Wide, and tall. Shoulders that stretched from Hollywood to New York City. But his normal speaking voice ranked just above a whisper. As a teenager he carried records for DJs. As a professional, he carried water for an industry and for a culture. Lighty — who with co-owner Mona Scott ran Violator Records and Violator Management, who founded Brand Asset Management and worked closely with Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen in the early days of Rush Artist Management — died Thursday. He was 44.

He has managed (among others) the careers of 50 Cent, Missy Elliott, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes and Foxy Brown. Those who dislike the commercialization of hip-hop may see only money signs in Lighty's move to brand the game: Long before he negotiated what would become 50 Cent's $100 million deal with Glacéau's Vitamin Water, Violator worked out LL's commercial with the Gap in the late 1990s, as well as Busta and A Tribe Called Quest's early deals with soda companies.


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