With the music world still searching for answers as to why music mogul Chris Lighty would take his own life, his partner Michael “Blue” Williams offers some insight.
There has been much made about Lighty’s tax debt to the IRS, but Williams, who partnered with Chris to form the management company Primary Violator last year, urges the public not to focus on the dollar amount.
“Chris’ debt is probably less important than the pressure that he was under,” Williams told MTV News on Friday (August 31). “What people are missing and what people don’t see and what Chris is an example of is how much, as black men, we carry around and don’t always communicate.”
Thursday morning, police responded to a call at Lighty’s Bronx, New York, residence and found the mega-manager to stars like 50 Cent and Mariah Carey lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead on the scene in what authorities are calling a suicide.
Law enforcement sources also told the New York Daily News that Lighty’s wife told police that her husband had acquired a sizable tax debt totaling $5 million, though the Associated Press reports that Lighty had paid most of it off, owing only $330,000 in state and federal taxes.
“Some people will hear you’re in $2 million of debt and be like, ’Aww he could’ve got out of that,’ ” Williams said anecdotally. “Other people will be like, ’He’s been in debt before and then dug himself out,’ because managers get in debt sometimes and you got to dig yourself out when your artist gets hot.”
Williams said he understands the ebb and flow of artist management, being a 20-year music veteran who has overseen the careers of acts like OutKast and Cee Lo Green. In a lot of ways, he could relate to Lighty just based off their own experiences. But there were personal and private conversations with his business partner as well.
“I know exactly what he was feeling when it comes to pressure and debt, trying to keep your company afloat and doing what you got to do, while also maintaining a certain perception out there,” Williams explained of the air of invincibility that top moguls must maintain. “It was a combination of both, talking to him, my own experiences; I’m not just grabbing it out of the air.”
Chris was also going through a divorce with his wife, Veronica. It has been reported that the two were arguing just moments before Lighty took his own life. Williams doesn’t doubt for a second that Lighty’s home life elevated his stress level. “No one can fight in the streets all day and then go home and fight all night, no matter what you do for a living, not just being specific to [Chris],” he said.
In the end, Williams just wants Chris Lighty to be remembered for all of his pioneering efforts, whether it was brokering multimillion-dollar record deals or landing key endorsements for clients like 50 Cent and LL Cool J.
“Chris to me is just as important as the Russells and Puffs and Lyors and those people whose names are synonymous with hip-hop,” he said. “We lost a solider, a warrior in the fight for hip-hop legitimacy.”