Rapper Heavy D, 44, who made his reputation as a chubby but suave lyricist as frontman of Heavy D and the Boyz, dubbing himself the “overweight lover” in the early ’9os with hits like “We Got Our Own Thang” and “Gyrlz They Love Me,” died Tuesday, TMZ reported.
TMZ reported that a 911 call was placed from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., reporting an unconscious male found on the walkway around 11:25 a.m. When help arrived, Heavy was conscious and speaking. But he was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead at 1 p.m.
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Born in Jamaica in 1967, Dwight Arrington Myers emigrated to the United States with his family and moved to Mount Vernon, N.Y., according to a published biography. He began putting together rap lyrics as early as age 8 and as a teenager formed the rap group the Boyz, with Eddie (DJ Eddie F) Ferrell; Troy (Trouble T-Roy) Dixon; and Glen (G-Wiz) Parrish. In 1986, the group signed with Uptown Records under music mogul Andre Harrell and released their first album “Living Large” in 1987, featuring breakout hist “The Overweight Lover’s in the House” and “Mr. Big Stuff.”
In 1989, becoming part of the burgeoning “Jack Swing” sound in R&B, the group released Big Tyme featuring “Somebody for Me,” and went certified platinum. But on the album’s tour, Dixon was killed in a stage accident, becoming the subject of the titular track on the group’s next album Peaceful Journey in 1991.
Heavy went on to rap the theme song for each season of the FOX network’s variety show In Living Color and made recurring appearances on its hit shows Roc and Living Single. He continued his rap career with several platinum albums through the ’90s as well as with roles in films like The Cider House Rules and the Eddie Murphy comedy Life.
Rediscovering his Jamaican roots, Heavy released Vibes in 2008, charting with “Long Distance Girlfriend.” “Reggae’s the first music I ever experienced,” he told HipHopRX.com in 2008. “I’ve always mixed reggae and hip hop. But I came to a point where I felt I had put the exclamation mark on my hip hop career. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to transfer the love, respect and passion I have for hip hop and reggae into my latest musical endeavor.”
The cause of Heavy’s death remains unclear, but police said there is no evidence of foul play.
Though his death was sudden and unexpected, Heavy’s final message may have been two words sent through his Twitter account: “Be Inspired.”