Founder of Violator Management and instrumental figure in the development of hip-hop, Chris Lighty has died. He was 44. While police have not confirmed a cause of death, the New York Daily News is reporting that Lighty died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Bronx apartment, following an argument with his ex-wife.
Lighty may have been struggling with financial challenges, including owing $5 million to the IRS.Lighty got his start working with Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons at hip-hop's first major management shop, Rush; and then he went on to found Violator Management.
Lighty's Violator was an influential management and marketing company in early the early days of hip-hop and R&B's commercial success. In the late 1990's, the company repped a roster that included 50 Cent, Missy Elliot and L.L. Cool J and Fat Joe.
Last year, Violator merged with Larry Mestel's Primary Wave Talent Management, creating Primary Violator, of which Lighty was the Chief Operating Officer. Primary Violator represents a roster that includes Sean "Diddy" Combs, Soulja Boy, Cee Lo Green and Mariah Carey.
"Chris has been an important part of my business and personal growth for a decade. He was a good friend and advisor who helped me develop as an artist and businessman. My prayers are with his family. He will be greatly missed," said rapper 50 Cent in a statement released by his publicist.