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Hip-hop manager Chris Lighty dead after shooting himself outside his Bronx apartment: cops

Published: August 31, 2012 | 7:47 am
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Lighty, 44, a longtime manager of 50 Cent, Diddy, Ja Rule and Mariah Carey, was arguing with his estranged wife

Hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty killed himself Thursday after a heated argument with his estranged wife in the Bronx, police sources told the Daily News.

Lighty — a longtime manager who worked with the likes of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Ja Rule and Mariah Carey — walked away from the argument after declaring “I’m tired of this,” before shooting himself in the head behind his South Riverdale home about 11:30 a.m., the sources said.

Cops found Lighty, 44, the founder and chief of Violator Management, lying faceup on the basement patio in a pool of blood with a 9-mm. pistol at his side, the sources said.

The shocking suicide followed a wild spat between Lighty and his 36-year-old wife, Veronica, who filed for divorce last year.

Moving trucks were at the home, as the veteran music manager prepared to move out of the three-story townhouse, sources said.

Law enforcement sources said Lighty’s wife of seven years told police he was facing financial woes that include a $5 million debt to the IRS. However, The Associated Press reported that Lighty paid off most of what he owed by selling a Manhattan apartment for $5.6 million in October.

Lighty still owed more than $330,000 in state and federal taxes, the AP reported. And in April, he was sued by City National Bank for not paying them after he had overdrawn his account by $53,584.

His 17-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were in the W. 232nd St. home and left when the argument erupted. They were in a park nearby when Lighty, H who has three other children, stepped outside and pulled the trigger, sources said.

“It’s just devastating,” said Dan Charnas, author of “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop” who featured Lighty in the final chapters of his book. “He was the personification of hip hop’s growth into the world.”

Charnas recalled how the kid from the Bronx River Houses evolved into a successful businessman.

“He wasn’t on the straight and narrow,” the writer said, but “learned to restrain whatever demons he had. Maybe in the end his circumstances weakened his restraints.” Lighty — who was reportedly worth an estimated $30 million — helped launch the careers of several artists, including brokering a multimillion-dollar deal for 50 Cent.

Lighty pushed the Queens rapper to sign a deal with Glaceau Energy Brands when they unveiled their new product, Vitamin Water, in 2004.

The “In Da Club” rapper joined the campaign team, appearing in several ads for about three years.

When Coca-Cola bought Glaceau for $4.1 billion, 50 Cent cashed out his 10% stake in the company — which reportedly earned the rapper between $60 million and $100 million.


Hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty was found dead outside his Bronx apartment Thursday.

Rumors swirled recently that the pair had a falling out, but Lighty took to his blog to clear the air.

In his final blog post on his website, ChrisLighty.com, he wrote that he was “BUSY TRYING TO STAY AHEAD OF THE RAT RACE WE CALL HIP HOP.”

Lighty said allegations that he and his brother were attacked by a member of 50 Cent’s crew were simply ridiculous.

The June 23 post, titled “chaos and mayhem . . . hip hop,” continued with an eerie message, apparently aimed at twisted stories involving his clients.


Lighty, who was born Darrel Lighty, was raised with five siblings by a single mother in the projects. He had his big break in the late 1980s, when Russell Simmons offered him a gig to work for his management company.

His career quickly catapulted after Lighty founded Violator Management, which merged last year with Primary Wave Talent Management to create Primary Violator.

In 2008, he was named one of Crain’s 40 under 40.

“When you’re growing up in the Reagan era, you really learn the value of a food stamp — and you never want to go back there,” he told Crain’s.

“On the entrepreneurial side, this is one of the biggest losses in hip hop,” said Datwon Thomas, executive editor of Vibe magazine.

Lighty had one arrest on his record, a pinch for weapons possession, a law enforcement source said.

As news of his sudden death spread Thursday, some of the industry’s brightest stars took to Twitter to share their condolences.

“In shock,” tweeted Sean (Diddy) Combs. “R.I.P. Chris Lighty.”

“Rest peacefully Chris Lighty, my prayers go out to family and loved ones! Dear God please have mercy,” tweeted songstress Rihanna.

“R.I.P. CHRIS LIGHTY THE MAN THAT SAVED MY LIFE,” Bronx rapper Fat Joe posted on Twitter. “I Would Be Nothing Without YOU!!! My Kids Appreciate YOU God Bless Chris Lighty.”

Nick Cannon posted: “I’m devastated right now. I can’t believe my big brother Chris Lighty is gone . . . He was a pioneer, a mentor, and a great friend.”

Outside Lighty’s home, some stars showed up to help finish removing boxes Lighty was packing to take away from the house.

Deejay Funkmaster Flex and rapper Busta Rhymes were seen outside helping load two UHaul trucks parked on the street.

“I am utterly, utterly devastated,” said hip-hop activist Harry Allen. “It feels unfair to us. He was our wealth. Chris was like the fruition of all that could be. He was loved.”


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