Well, it’s been almost a week since we found out the legendary Heavy D had passed away, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier to stomach. I still have no idea what caused Heavy’s death, and it doesn’t seem like there is much consensus out there other than some information about Heav suffering from some respiratory illness before his death.
But I suppose there’s no point now in dwelling on the cause of his death, it’s best to try and reflect on Heav’s life and career. I’m sure there are many other people more qualified to comment on Heavy’s place in the history hip hop, but I can speak from the perspective of a fan who was heavily obsessed with hip hop when Heav was in his prime. And when I think of Heavy D in his prime, I think of a guy who embodied the spirit of Golden Age as much as anyone else from that era.
While the Heavster was an excellent MC, light on his lyrical feet and able to sound good using a variety of styles & flows (he has to be one of the first MC’s to incorporate real Dancehall flavour into some of his songs, which isn’t a surprise considering his Jamaican roots), he understood that an MC is also an entertainer and he seemed perfectly comfortable in that role. Early hip hop was was largely about bravado, and Heav certainly had that in abundance, but he used his braggadocio to establish a rep as perhaps the unlikeliest of ladies men. His “Overweight Lover” persona might have been slightly tongue-in-cheek at first, but the love jams were a constant throughout Heav’s career, and I don’t think anyone ever doubted their sincerity.
But Heavy certainly had plenty of hip hop creds outside of the love jams, Don’t Curse, for example, easily belongs in the Posse Cuts hall of fame, and the hip hop world also owes Heav its thanks for put on his cousin, super-producer Pete Rock. Heav also put iconic hip hop/R&B label Uptown on the map, being it’s first signee and later president of the label itself, and he also had to deal with the first real “rap tragedy” I can think of when Trouble T-Roy died in a backstage accident in 1990. Throw in Heav’s career as an actor, and you surely have one of the lengthiest and most successful & diverse careers in hip hop history.
So once again, R.I.P. Heavy D. You will be missed.
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