Tributes paid to hip hop 'pioneer' Chris Lighty after suspected suicide


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tributes were today paid to one of the pioneering figures of hip hop who helped build the careers and bank balances of stars such as 50 Cent, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Maria Carey.

Chris Lighty, was found dead at his home in the Bronx suffering a gunshot wound to the head. He was 44.

The mogul had been in the final stages of a divorce and was beset with financial difficulties. Police said he appeared to have committed suicide.

A 9 mm handgun was found at the scene and there was no sign of forced entry.

50 Cent described Lighty as “a good friend and advisor who helped me develop as an artist and businessman.”

Diddy wrote: "The man that saved my life! In shock” while Rihanna posted the message “Dear God please have mercy" and Mary J Blige expressed her dismay at his death.

"U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living. take it easy on people," she tweeted.

Lighty was an astute businessman who grew up in the Bronx River projects one of six children raised by a single mother. “I got my MBA in Hell”, he once said.

By 2007 artists under his charge had sold more than 80m records worldwide. But it was the former DJ’s ability to spot tie-up deals outside music that saw him build his clients’ personal fortunes.

Through his company Violator- which he named after his old street gang – he signed a lucrative contract between for LL Cool J and Gap in 1997 which he followed up with a deal with Chapstick.

In 2004 he negotiated a partnership between 50 Cent and drink company Glaceau which earned the rapper an estimated $100m when it was bought by Coca-Cola three years later.

“As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the internet and trading it and iPod sales continue to rise, you can't rely on just the income that you would make off of being an artist,” he said at the time.

The father of two had split from his wife Veronica and had recently agreed a divorce settlement. He was being sued by City National Bank after going $53,584 (£33,776) overdrawn on his account.

He also owed more than $330,000 (£208,011) in state and federal taxes, and had recently sold his Manhattan apartment for $5.6m (£3.5m).