Darrell Steven Lighty was given the nickname
“Baby Chris” as a young kid, which later became the hip-hop mogul known as Chris Lighty. Chris Lighty got his first break while working as an assistant for
DJ Red Alert in the late 80’s. Lighty was then hired by Russell Simmons to work for his Rush Management label. Chris gained his early management experience with
Boogie Down Productions as their road manager. One of Lighty’s last tweets was in remembrance of the group’s members, DJ Scott La Rock, who was shot and killed outside of the Highbridge housing projects in the Bronx. Lighty turned his experience with BDP into management opportunities with
The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest. Under the tutelage of Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen, Chris Lighty formed Violator Management in the early 90’s. The name for the company came from the Bronx crew that Lighty was a part of as a teen, known as The Violators.
Violator Management became home to artists like LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, Mariah Carey, Sean “Diddy” Combs, 50 Cent, and several other platinum selling acts.
Christ Lighty helped thrust hip-hop into the mainstream when he locked an advertisement deal between Sprite and A Tribe Called Quest in 1994.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgWh_4n7VEM In the midst of his commercial success with Sprite and Tribe, was the very heated East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry in Hip-Hop. Chris Lighty brokered a deal between California’s own Warren G and Def Jam Records. Shortly thereafter,
G dropped “Regulate” and saw his debut album on the label reach triple platinum status.
While managing LL Cool J, Lighty helped the Def Jam rapper land a commercial spot with The Gap.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3L04ry7a4o Following the success of LL Cool J’s ad campaign with the Gap, the Violator founder worked out a deal between Mountain Dew and Busta Rhymes for this 1999 commercial.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-AB32Fb0E0 In the late 90’s – early 2000’s,
Lighty turned his very strong ties to Def Jam into an executive position with the label. While also running his Violator imprint, Lighty aided projects on a Def Jam roster that included Jay-Z, DMX, Foxy Brown, Ja-Rule and many of Hip-Hop’s elite. During his tenure at Def Jam, Lighty also released two compilation albums featuring Violator managed artists. The 1999 release of ‘Violator: The Album’ featured the standout track “Vibrant Thing” from Q-Tip.
The imprints first release reached #8 on the Billboard Charts moving over 115,000 units in its first week. 2001 saw the release of ‘Violator: The Album 2.0’ which featured several hit records: Noreaga’s “Grimey”, Busta Rhymes ft. Kelis “What It Is”, and the Missy Elliot & Ja Rule collaborative “Ex”. 2003-2007 was a monumental time period for Chris Lighty and all of Hip-Hop culture, as the mogul was responsible for the deal between 50 Cent and Vitamin Water,
which netted a $100 million dollar payday for the G-Unit MC. Lighty also brokered a joint venture with the Ecko clothing line to produce G-Unit apparel, which produced over $50 million in revenue in its first year. Chris Lighty once called Soulja Boy the next Will Smith of Hip-Hop, and Diggy Simmons raps next LL Cool J.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO7tk7speKw&feature=relmfu Chris is survived by his wife Veronica and four children.
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