Def Jam Executive Vice President Shakir Stewart, who replaced Jay-Z at the helm of the label and signed such artists as Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, died Saturday (November 1). According to reports, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Further details were not available at press time.
A native of Oakland, California, Stewart was appointed executive vice president in June, which he called his dream job. A graduate of Atlanta's Morehouse College, he previously worked at Hitco Music Publishing, to which he signed Beyoncé, according to Billboard.com. He was an A&R consultant at LaFace Records from 2000 to 2004 and signed Ciara to the label. He recently signed up-and-coming artists Rocko and Karina Pasian to Def Jam.
Stewart succeeded Jay-Z, who resigned his post at Def Jam in December of last year, in June. He told Billboard at the time that his goal was to help develop "new, young executives ... the hot executive who's 21, 22 years old and has a serious passion for music and the desire to work 27 hours a day. That's where I was at that time in my life. And that's who I'm looking to mentor. I don't see many people like that. Instead, I see a lot of kids who want to live the lifestyle but don't want to put in the work and do what it takes."
On a personal note, Shakir, or "Shake," as his friends call him, was one of the coolest. Saturday night on Atlanta radio, legendary DJ and longtime friend Greg Street saluted him.
Authorities investigating the matter could not be reached for comment at press time.
Late Saturday night, Island Def Jam issued the following statement: "LA Reid and all of us at Island Def Jam Music Group are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Shakir Stewart. Shakir was an amazing man, in every sense of the word. A truly incredible friend and father who was an inspiration to not only our artists and employees, but to his family and the many people who had the privilege of counting him as a friend. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time."
[This story was originally published at 10:28 p.m. ET on 11.01.2008]