Chris Lighty's funeral Wednesday was attended by a multitude of hip-hop stars, including 50 Cent, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, and Lauryn Hill. The hip-hop mogul, who is presumed to have committed suicide Aug. 30, was instrumental in the careers of various hip-hop artists.
Chris Lighty was laid to rest at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home at 9 a.m. in New York City, and the standing room only chapel was flooded with stars, family, friends, well-wishers and fans. Lighty's company, Violator Management, is responsible for many successful artists, and Lighty himself advised and advocated for up-and-comers.
"He was a jewel and a treasured person in the community," rapper LL Cool J told MTV outside the funeral home. "Just one of the architects of our culture and he was my friend."
"He grew up to be in so many ways a true leader in our hip hop world," LL Cool J continued. "We didn't thank him enough. I know I didn't."
Lighty was found dead in his Riverdale townhouse with a gunshot wound to the head after an argument with his estranged wife, Veronica. Although the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide, family members like Chris' brother Dave have asked for a second autopsy.
Lighty, whose given name was Darrell, had humble beginnings in the hip-hop world carrying records for Kool DJ Red Alert, then working for the Jungle Brothers, and finally establishing his own management company in the late 1990s. While there were claims of Lighty having financial problems— he owed $330,000 to the IRS, according to the Associated Press— some hip-hop stars wondered why he never asked for help.
"Whatever the pressure was that made him take his life had to be tremendous pressure," Grandmaster Flash, a hip-hop pioneer, said. "I just wish that Chris would have reached out and said, 'Flash, I need some help man.' … He didn't reach out. It's really sad."
Still, Lighty's influence on hip-hop— and by extension, music— will not be forgotten. The evidence was seen in the numerous stars that attended: Missy Elliot, Q-Tip, Russell Simmons, Papoose, Fat Joe, Rev. Run, Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, Nick Cannon and many others were in attendance.
"You were the light in a lot of lives," Busta Rhymes said during his emotional tribute. "It ain't no coincidence that your last name was Lighty."