Hip-hop executive Chris Lighty (pictured) has died from an apparent suicide. The native of the Bronx died today of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to various sources. He was found in the backyard of his Bronx apartment at 11.30 a.m. Thursday morning.
While no one knows exactly why he put an end to his own life, the New York Daily News reports that Lighty, 44, has been dealing with financial issues, including $5 million to the IRS. Though the Associated Press reports that Lighty paid off much of that when he sold a Manhattan apartment in October for $5.6 million. In April, Light overdrew his City National Bank account by $53,584 and then refused to pay the balance, according to the Associated Press.
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Note: The Associated Press reports that the divorce case between Lighty and his wife, Veronica, was still active, but electronic records show that an agreement to end their marriage had been finalized in June.
TMZ is reporting that he and his ex-wife were involved in an argument before he shot himself.
Lighty, the powerhouse behind Violator Records, guided the careers of hip-hop heavyweights like 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot.
He began his career working for DJ Red Alert and was a road manager for Boogie Down Productions. Lighty also managed groups like The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest. He was given the nickname “Baby Chris” for his good looks and to distinguish himself from his older friend, Chris Ali.
According to Billboard, Violator came to prominence during the late 1990s under Lighty and former co-owner/president Mona Scott-Young. The company’s top albums include Violator: The Album (1999) and 2001’s Violator: the Album, V2.0., according to Billboard. Those albums lead to hits such as “Vibrant Thang” by Q-Tip and “What It Is” featuring Busta Rhymes and Kelis.
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According to The Daily Beast, he is most known for helping 50 Cent to ink a multimillion dollar deal with Glaceau Mineral Water in 2004. Lighty also produced the rapper’s hit album “Get Rich or Die Tryin.”
News of Lighty’s death has evoke words of praise and tweets from those who have worked with him, including talent he currently manages.
Russell Simmons had this to say about Lighty’s passing, according to Rolling Stone:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of a hip-hop hero,” said Russell Simmons in a statement reacting to Lighty’s sudden passing. “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.”