Violator Management founder Chris Lighty has died of an apparent suicide at age 44. Globalgrind.com, owned by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, first confirmed the tragic news. The New York Police Department confirmed to XXL that Lighty, 44, was found dead Thursday morning (August 30) at 11:33 a.m. at his Riverdale, Bronx apartment with “self-inflicted gunshot wounds” to the head.
The New York Daily News is reporting Lighty was found just outside of his home and the gun, a 9-mm, was located near his body; a police source told the newspaper that Lighty shot himself after an argument with his estranged wife.
Lighty had been an immense part of the music industry since the 1980s, first carrying crates for Kool DJ Red Alert, then the Bronx native later joined Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at Rush Management and Def Jam Recordings.
His lasting legacy remains his own company, Violator, where Lighty played a key role in molding the careers of superstars such as LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Missy Elliott, Ja Rule, Mobb Deep, Nas, 50 Cent, Diddy and more.
In recent years, Lighty, fiercely independent, merged his company with a larger entity, Primary Wave Music, to creative Primary Violator Management, in pursuit of additional revenue streams for his roster of clients. Although Lighty was successful in his endeavors, particularly in his ventures with 50 Cent, the superstar manager was also in the midst of a prolonged divorce. According to the Daily News, Lighty allegedly owed a substantial sum of money ($5 million) to the IRS.
Thursday’s news of his passing sent shockwaves through the music industry, as word spread via social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
“R.I.P. Chris Lighty the man that saved my life!!!” Fat Joe offered. “I Would Be Nothing Without YOU!!! My Kids Appreciate YOU God Bless Chris Lighty”
“Hard one to grab Yo damn…. My most humble prayers to the family of Chris Lighty!” Ghostface Killah
“So very sad about Chris lighty..Great long time friend,fellow bronxite and peer…incredible businessman and person,” veteran music video director Jeff Robinson tweeted.
Veteran producers like Alchemist and Scram Jones offered their condolences as well.
“Never without a smile,” Alchemist said. “Gonna be missed. Rest in Peace my friend Chris Lighty.”
Added Scram Jones: “R.I.P. Chris Lighty — that’s just crazy — #1 Hip Hop Manager.”
Violator representatives had no comment when reached for comment. —XXL Staff (@XXL)