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Heavy D dies at 44

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Heavy D, the self-proclaimed "overweight lover" of hip-hop who became one of rap's top hit-makers with wit, humour and a positive vibe, has died. He was 44.

LOS ANGELES - Heavy D, the self-proclaimed “overweight lover” of
hip-hop who became one of rap's top hit-makers with wit, humour and a
positive vibe, has died. He was 44.


Lt. Mark Rosen of the
Beverly Hills police said Heavy D died in a Los Angeles hospital
Tuesday after collapsing at his condominium building.


Rosen said
Beverly Hills police officers were dispatched to Heavy D's condominium
building Tuesday morning after receiving a report of an unconscious
person laying on the walkway of a building. They found Heavy D was
conscious and communicative but had difficulty breathing and was
transported to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he later died.


Rosen
said Beverly Hills detectives found no signs of foul play and believe
his death is medically related. He said Heavy D “was returning home
from shopping. He experienced difficulty breathing while walking into
his condominium building. He was being assisted up to his apartment by
building personnel when he collapsed in an exterior hallway.”


The last tweet from Heavy D posted Tuesday morning read, “BE INSPIRED!”


Dwight
Arrington Myers, the rapper known as Heavy D of Heavy D and the Boyz,
and his crew released their debut album “Living Large” in 1987. Their
hits included “Now That We Found Love,” ”Who's the Man“ and ”Somebody
For Me.“


The New York-born rapper was one of the genre's most
integral stars in the last 1980s and early 1990s, as it relied on new
voices and star power to fuel its phenomenal growth in the mainstream.


The
deep-voiced rapper's earliest hit, “The Overweight Lover's in the
House,” played up his hefty frame. But while that nickname would stick,
his weight did not become part of his shtick, like the Fat Boys. What
drew people to his music was his singular style, which celebrated an
easygoing, party vibe - sometimes humorous, sometimes inspiring and
almost always positive.


In the mid-1990s, Heavy D became
president of Uptown Records, the label that released most of his albums
and was also the home to acts like Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. He also
created the theme songs for sketch comedy shows “In Living Color” and
“MADtv” and acted on the TV shows “Boston Public” and “The Tracy Morgan
Show,” as well as in the films “Life” and “Step Up.”


“Most know
Heavy D as a rap icon,” said actor-comedian Tommy Davidson. “I
considered him a brother who made an indelible mark on me as a
performer and a human being. I miss him already.”


Combined with
the fusion of the “New Jack Swing” musical style, Heavy D was a
constant presence on the charts, and also a go-to figure for several
performers. He collaborated with such artists as Michael Jackson on the
1991 single “Jam” and the 1997 duet “Keep It Coming” with B.B. King.


Heavy
D attempted a reggae-fueled comeback in 2008 with the album “Vibes,”
which didn't contain any rapping. He returned to rapping on his latest
album, “Love Opus,” which was released in September, and he performed a
medley of his past hits at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards last month.


“I'm
so glad that we got to work together for his performance at last
month's BET Hip-Hop Awards,” said Stephen Hill, BET's president of
music programming and specials. “Hev was focused, energetic and happy.
He worked hard, as he always had, to excite the crowd. Our condolences
go to his family and specifically his daughter who he doted on. He was
a unique figure in hip-hop and will be missed.”


He also had a cameo appearance in the new movie “Tower Heist,” starring Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller.


AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in Los Angeles and AP Writerwriter Mesfin Fekadu in New York contributed to this report.

 
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