This week music lost another legend. Jamaican-born rapper/actor Dwight Myers aka "Heavy D" passed away on November 8 in Los Angeles due to respiratory distress. He was only 44.
His death came only 4 days after the release of "Tower Heist," starring Eddie Murphy...a movie that would rejuvinate Heavy's acting career. Do you remember him in recurring roles on Roc, Living Single, and even on A Different World? New Jersey Drive, Life? He was a talented brother.
What's crazy is that just a few weeks ago, he tore up the stage at the BET Hip Hop Awards (footage below). I was so happy to see him looking well, still moving like the ol' Heav, and bringing back the hits that I had grown to love. The crowd loved him, and it reaffirmed my appreciation of old school hip hop. No matter what Weezy, Jeezy, or Yeezy ever did on that BET stage...nothing compares to the old familiar feeling of hip hop classics.
It is always sad to hear when one of your childhood icons has come to the end of their creative journey. But while the news was sad, I notice that the overall impression that Heavy D left on his fans and family has been extremely positive. The music he left has been uplifting. And his legacy will be fitting of the impact he has had on all who enjoyed his music and work.
His latest album Love Opus was just released in September of this year, representing his 9th studio album, and a recording history spanning almost 25 years.
He was a star. Nominated for 4 Grammy awards, including a recent nomination in 2009 for Best Reggae Album. He was also a 4-time Soul Train Award nominee, and easily walked away with the award for Best Rap Album back in 1990.
And who can forget the CLASSIC theme songs he performed for In Living Color, and even Mad TV. Theme songs that could rock a club, and always made us jam on our sofas when the Wayans' show was about to begin.
When I remember Heavy D, I will remember his dancing! This brother could groove! And even as the self-described "overweight lover" he could move with the best of them, big and slim.
When I remember Heavy, I will remember his songs...those songs that were the soundtrack to my adolescence and continue to sound fantastic and rock dancefloors no matter where the music is played. I'll remember the chart-toppers like "Somebody for Me," "The Girls They Love Me," and "We Got Our Own Thang" from his 1989 album Big Tyme. I'll remember my favourite Heavy D tune "Now That We Found Love" from the 1991 album Peaceful Journey.
Remembering Heavy, I will automatically go back to the other music of 1991. Because while his songs were playing, they were accompanied by hits from Boyz II Men, Naughty by Nature, Salt n Pepa, PM Dawn, Ralph Tresvant, and Hi-Five. It was a classic era of feel-good music.
Even hearing Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" today reminded me of Heavy, because Trouble T Roy was once one of "The Boyz" when Heavy D performed as Heavy D and the Boyz. They were all a part of a generation of legendary New York rappers, Uptown Records, and truly foundational years in hip hop music.
When I remember Heavy D, I will remember how GOOD music used to make me feel. It was an era of dancing, of bright colours, baggy clothing, funky beats, and true celebration of development of hip hop culture. When it was OK to bounce around and music was all about having a good time, and enjoying life.
Heavy D performing on the Arsenio Hall Show:
Heavy D perfoming last month on the BET Hip Hop Awards; his first performance in over 15 years.
Go Heav! You will be missed.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson, for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.