The homegoing ceremony for hip-hop manager Chris Lighty not only provided closure for his family and friends who were shocked by his untimely death last week but may have also laid to rest a few notable hip-hop beefs that was displayed by the turnout at his funeral.
In a music industry where the bread and butter has notoriously been controlled by the bubble gum rap era jockeying for a position in mainstream media, “Baby Chris” was known as the “street” manager taking on more edgier acts who rapped the tough talk and backed it up in the streets. In any case of doubt, plug Lighty’s lengthy roster here (Uncle Murda, Papoose, Cormega, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe and … 50 Cent.)
It was Chris who secured the larger than life multi-million dollar deals (Chris assisted signing Papoose to Jive Records for $1.5 million and played a major role in 50 Cent’s Vitamin Water Glaceau $100 million dollar payday) for MCs who went from pursuing a degree as street pharmacists to a much more distinctive life where the grass is greener and their driveways mirrored the car show at the Jacob Javits Center. Case in point one of Lighty’s biggest clients to date was none other than bulletproof king 50 Cent.
50 skyrocketed from his Southside Jamaica hood where he was notorious for leading the boys in blue at the 103rd precinct on motorcycle chases to negotiating million dollar deals in the corporate offices donning bulletproof vests. Soon after inking a deal with Eminem and Dr. Dre and the millions began to roll in 50 never left the vest at home and right beside him also sporting the Kevlar was his manager (“real s--t, this n---a had the vest on with us Ha ready for whatever) tweeted G-Unit affiliate and music executive Sha Money XL after Lightys death.
As 50’s stock grew so did his squabbles with other rappers. Jadakiss, Nas, and Fat Joe were just a few to name who were at odds with the new King of New York. Fat Joe and Fif went to war and many had concerns that the deeper-than-rap beef had potential to spill into the streets, but other than a run in at the MTV Video Music Awards the two never crossed paths. Until yesterday. 50, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo who joined Fif in his lyrical attacks and Fat Joe all peacefully attended Lighty's funeral services as expected. Both 50 and Fat Joe were managed by Lighty and credit him with being an important part of their successful careers.
Another pair of hardcore acts who were at each others necks at one point and also had ties to Lighty were Brooklynites Papoose and Uncle Murda. Pap was on track as the next rap great hailing from Brooklyn but a rising Uncle Murda had his own plans to put Brooklyn on his back (East New Yoooooork). The brief beef resulted in a few dis records and altercations in the streets amongst their affiliates but eventually cooler heads prevailed. At the conclusion of Lighty's funeral both men stood not far from each other sadly staring at Chris’ casket as it was placed inside the hearse sitting in front of the Frank E. Campbell funeral home.
After Lighty was laid to rest at the George Washington Memorial cemetery imprisoned music executive and one time rival Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond issued a statement breaking his silence on Lighty’s death. “Chris, you were my peer in business and in life” Rosemond told website Allhiphop.com. “We learned the game together. You will be missed.”
While Rosemond's kind words may have caught many by surprise, the statement also provided a moment of clarity. Rosemond and Lighty were on opposite sides of the fence with Jimmy representing former G-Unit member The Game and Lighty guiding the career of Unit founder 50 Cent. One time client Cormega may have put it best in his own statement grieving the death of his ex-manager. In the past ‘Mega had a beef with Lighty after his Def Jam debut went cold, holding Lighty somewhat accountable. Looking back, Cormega says he cherishes the hard decisions the Violator founder made for his career.
“Chris is always going to be who I aspire to be like in the industry. He represents WINNING, LOYALTY, and CONSISTENCY and to this day I've never heard an artist say Chris jerked them” says Cormega. “Even though Testament wasn't released by Violator, I will say this, he gave me 100 % publishing and I had nice point percentage. My first deal was the biggest at the time for a new artist. A quarter million and that was because of Chris. My first recording plaque came from Chris, first tour came from Chris, and the first true sorrow I ever felt for a music executive dying is from Chris.”
On a sad, unforgettable day eulogizing a father, husband and all around great guy, hip-hop put their differences aside. For Chris’ sake hopefully it lasts. Rest in peace, Chris Lighty.