While many around the world were in a euphoric state Tuesday night as Barack Obama won the presidential election, Rick Ross just couldn't enjoy himself. Although he was ecstatic that the Illinois senator would be leading our nation, rap's biggest Boss was still in mourning.
"I lost my business partner and friend Shakir Stewart," Ross said about the man who played an integral part in him being signed to Def Jam Records. "After every one of the debates, I could count on receiving his phone call or giving him a phone call. My high of Obama winning the race is followed by a bitter depression [because] my comrade and someone I had so much respect and admiration for is no longer with us."
Stewart's still-shocked friends and family were in Atlanta on Thursday and Friday for a private funeral and open memorial service. The 34-year-old Def Jam executive vice president died Saturday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A week later, no one can make sense of the tragedy.
Stewart's image was of someone who conducted himself in a dignified manner and always seemed upbeat. Shakir — nicknamed "Shake" by his friends — was one of the most well-liked high-ranking executives in music. The respect that many of today's top stars had for him was unparalleled.
"From the aspect of production, writing, Shakir was everywhere," said Usher, who worked with Stewart a great deal over the years. "Whether it was working specifically for L.A. Reid, managing, giving advice ... just understanding the game and understanding the hustle and what this industry is — he was that dude. Whenever you saw him, he was always fly, always energy, he was Oakland [California]. He was always cool. He was always the guy bringing energy to the room. These last days, I heard his spirits was broken. So I'm pretty sure he had a very hard time before this incident."
"I feel he was the glue between the street and the corporate medium," Ross said. "He was my mesh. He was my go-to guy. It was a great loss for music. My condolences go to his family, his fiancée and children. For the people who knew Shake, regardless of the circumstances, his legend can never be tarnished."
Usher agreed. "To say the least, it was definitely earth-shattering to lose Shakir Stewart. An incredible commodity to this industry. Anybody that knew him knew the bright spirit he had. It came as a shock to everybody when we heard that horrible news. My prayers, my condolences and passion go out to his children, his fiancée and those closest to him. ... If anything, take this as an example as how you should cherish those around you.
"If you knew Shakir, you would say, 'Never. This could never happen to Shakir. It's not him. That wouldn't happen,' " Usher continued about his friend's death. "So, you know, I learned a lesson from this: to have compassion, to ask that question, to communicate. I think God put us here to communicate and help each other through our hardships. This industry can definitely take the worst of you or make the best of you. I've chosen to accept it as the best of me."
According to the police report, which was obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stewart's fiancée had sensed a drastic change in his character and had called a family friend over to help talk to him. When the friend, identified as Herb Smith, stepped outside to call 911, he heard the fatal gunshot.