Longtime Hip Hop executive Chris Lighty has died. News broke today (August 30) first on Twitter and then confirmed on VIBE.com that the Bronx, New York native and founder of Violator Entertainment died from an alleged suicide. Details are still emerging.
Lighty was integral to the careers of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, N.O.R.E., Diamond D, and many others. After growing up under the tutelage of Hip Hop icons like DJ Red Alert, Lighty began working professional at Russell Simmons’ RUSH Management firm in the late 1980s, where he helped work with Def Jam Records artists and others in securing endorsement deals and touring.
A part of the Native Tongues at the turn of the decade, Lighty and his brother as The Violators, helped the movement alongside A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
The Violator name carried on in the late 1990s and 2000s, when Lighty launched his own firm. The management company handled clients ranging from Diamond D and Foxy Brown to Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip. In recent years, Lighty was working on Brand Asset Group with Lyor Cohen, his longtime associate and friend, and Warner Music Group. Last September, Violator merged with Primary Wave to form powerhouse management company Primary Violator.
N.O.R.E. mourned the passing on Twitter, saying, “I will be a Violator for life 4ever.”
UPDATE: The New York Daily News confirms that Lighty was found dead at his apartment in Bronx, New York this morning at 11:30 am EST. He was shot in the head in what arriving officers reported was self-inflicted. Police officials also told the newspaper that Lighty, 44 years old, was newly divorced and owed the IRS several million dollars.
HipHopDX extends our condolences to the Lighty family, Violator and all of Chris’ friends and associates.