Heavy D, the "Overweight Lover" of hip-hop's golden age, is dead at 44. The news broke over Twitter this afternoon, when Grandmaster Flash posted, "I was just told Heavy D passed away." Dream Hampton, a hip-hop journalist close to the rapper, confirmed the news to SPIN, and TMZ provided additional details, reporting the rapper was brought to a Los Angeles hospital at 12 p.m. today and pronounced dead an hour later.
Heavy D, born Dwight Arrington Myers, a native of "Money-earnin' Mount Vernon," New York, is best known for a series of consistently topnotch albums from the late '80s to the early '90s that seamlessly mixed hip-hop with pop aspirations, reaching an apex with the Top 20 single "Now That We Found Love" in 1991. His "chunky but funky" persona, cushiony delivery, and high-velocity flow earned five Top 40 albums and memorable guest appearances on albums by both Michael and Janet Jackson. More recently, Heavy performed on television for the first time in many years, closing out the 2011 B.E.T. Awards with a medley of his classic hits. Earlier this morning, he appeared on Radio 1Xtra and spoke to Tim Westwood about the performance, saying that he practiced eight hours a day for six weeks and almost vomited from nervousness.
Heavy was a marvel at mixing the wholesome and the credible, which was integral to his own success, as well as that of the seminal new jack swing and hip-hop hub Uptown Records, for which he recorded. Note this effortless duality on classic posse cut "Don't Curse":