Gunman Opens Fire at Violator Records Office – Today in Hip-Hop
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Jan. 16, 2003: Chris Lighty was on top of the world in 2003. His label, Violator Records, and management group was home to the biggest stars in rap, including names like Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent and Missy Elliott. But, with everything seemingly going right, someone had to be unhappy. On the night of Jan. 16, 2003, a gunman fired off rounds aimed at the record label.
No one was injured at the time of shooting, and Lighty nor his artists were present at the time that the gunman opened fire. The employees who were in the office couldn't identify the shooter nor could they tell if he acted alone or with partners. The office's security team tried to chase the culprit and catch them, but that was to no avail.
This shooting incident happened a few months after the murder of hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC in October 2002, whose murder remained unsolved until August 2020, when Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr. were arrested on murder charges in connection to the slaying.
Jay also had a young rapper named 50 Cent under his wing at the time. Two months after Jay's death, Fif had a run-in with the law on Dec. 31, 2002. The Queen, N.Y. rhymer was arrested for riding in a car with multiple guns. Add in the Violator Records shooting, and it began to feel like trouble was following the budding star wherever he went back then.
Thankfully, the Violator Records team survived the shooting and went on to continued success, securing brand partnerships with artists that proved very lucrative for them in the future. Sadly, years later, Chris Lighty was found dead outside of his New York home on Aug. 30, 2012, with a gunshot wound to his head in an apparent suicide.
Despite his tragic end, Chris Lighty's business acumen in hip-hop will continue to live on.