Legendary hip-hop executive and manager to the stars, Chris Lighty, was found dead on Thursday (August 30) at the age of 44 but his legacy will never be forgotten. The Violator Management founder will be severely missed by those who were fortunate enough to cross paths with him, including MTV News’ Sway Calloway, who shared a personal memory of him.
“Chris Lighty was a music executive, he was a loving father and a music pioneer,” Sway said. “I remember when I first met Lighty when he worked with an artist by the name of Mic Geronimo and I got a chance to watch his career grow and I’m very happy I got a chance to be part of his wonderful career. Chris Lighty will be truly missed. Rest in Peace.”
Lighty, who hailed from the Bronx River Housing Projects, brokered some of the biggest deals music has ever seen but humbly got his start in the 1980s carrying record crates for legendary DJ Red Alert. He made a name for himself and rose through hip-hop’s ranks, learning the business under Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at Rush Management and on the road with the Jungle Brothers and Boogie Down Productions.
ighty went on to manage A Tribe Called Quest, and his name was often dropped in raps by other Native Tongues affiliates. “What’s Chris Lighty if he wasn’t such a baby,” Q-Tip rapped on A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 track “What?”
Baby Chris, as he was affectionately called, even tried his skills on the mic, dropping a verse on Black Sheep’s 1991 album cut “Pass the 40.” But Lighty shined brightest in the boardroom.
Lighty would go on to form Violator Management, where he oversaw the careers of some of the biggest stars in music. With a roster that has always boasted A-1 talent, Violator dropped their first compilation album,Violator: The Album, in 1999 and its sequel in 2001.