Chris Lighty, Hip-Hop Manager, Found Dead

Chris Lighty, who steered the careers of icons like LL Cool J and Mariah Carey, may have committed suicide.

Johnny Nunez, WireImage / Getty Images

Behind the scenes hip-hop guru Chris Lighty died Thursday morning from an apparently self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head, New York Daily News reports. The cause of his death remains unconfirmed.

Lighty, 44, had overseen the careers such multi-platinum-selling artists as 50 Cent, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and Mariah Carey. He was discovered dead inside his luxury apartment around 11:30 a.m., police sources told the Daily News. According to the article, law enforcement sources said Lighty may have been struggling with financial matters.

Reportedly going through a divorce with from his wife of eight years at the time of his death, Lighty was a Bronx street kid turned businessman who founded and served as chief executive of Violator Entertainment, a New York-based firm specializing in managing hip-hop and R&B artists. Over the years the company grew to encompass a record label, marketing group, and multimedia entertainment conglomerate, with a stable of many of urban music’s most vibrant acts. And over the course of the firm’s ascent, Lighty became singularly identified with helping artists with impeccable street cred cross over into the mainstream.

In perhaps his most famous business deal, Lighty helped Queens hardcore rapper 50 Cent score a reported half-billion dollar payday by advising him to invest in Glaceau Mineral Water in 2004. Lighty, who shunned the spotlight and seldom gave interviews, also produced the rapper’s crime drama Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

News of the mogul’s death has rippled across social media with a number of clients, former clients and old friends openly grieving on Twitter.

“R.I.P. Chris Lighty,” rapper Fat Joe wrote on Twitter. “That man saved my life.”

Compton gangsta rapper the Game tweeted: “Tragedy has once again struck the music industry & this time it hit close to home. Chris was a good dude, honestly…A father, husband, mogul & a great businessman.”

Ghostface Killah, of the seminal Staten Island rap collective Wu-Tang Clan wrote, “Hard one to grab Yo damn… My most humble prayers to the family of Chris Lighty.”