Hip-hop executive Chris Lighty, a founder of Violator Entertainment and manager to some of the biggest stars in the music industry, was found dead in his Bronx apartment Thursday in an apparent suicide, police said.
Lighty was found around 11:30 a.m. Thursday in his building on West 232nd Street, police said.
Sources said Lighty, who was instrumental in the careers of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey, among others, had been going through a divorce and was having financial troubles, a law enforcement source said.
His wife told police he owed the IRS $5 million, the source said.
The law enforcement source said he was found lying face-up in the rear patio of the basement, with a 9mm gun next to him.
Lighty was the eldest of six children of a single mother in the Bronx River Projects, according to Crain's, which named him one of 40 under 40 in 2008.
“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.
Lighty was behind some of rap's leading figures, helping them not only attain hit records but also lucrative careers outside of music. Tributes to him immediately began pouring in on Twitter.
"Your words and your vision are constant inspiration to me. Forever," rapper Talib Kweli tweeted.
Actor Omar Epps tweeted, "Chris Lighty was a pioneer in hip hop & the music biz period! He was a good man & a good friend. Prayers for his family and children."