RIP, Heavy D (1967-2011)

One of the few truly sensitive men in rap passed today. Known as Heavy D, Dwight Arrington Myers was one of the earliest and finest examples of the fusion of hip-hop and soul. He was 44.

TMZ reports that Heavy D died in Los Angeles after having difficulty breathing at his home.

From the time that Heavy D and the Boyz's 1986 signing to Uptown Records -- a label that later birthed Jodeci and Mary J. Blige and was home to an intern named Sean "Puffy" Combs -- things were going to be different in hip-hop from then on. The crudeness toward women exhibited in NWA's lyrics of the time would not be found in the material put out by the Mr. D. And this intentional lack of a hard edge won him a broad spectrum of fans and pop success. His booming voice ended up collaborating with Michael Jackson (and Michael Jordan) for "Jam."

Michael Jackson's "Jam" featuring Heavy D

"Now That We've Found Love," which is the finest use of the phrase "roses are red and violets are blue" in any pop song ever written, became his best-known hit after its 1991 release. And with able crooner Aaron Hall backing him up, the hit proved that a tender song about adult relationships didn't have to be the most cloying thing you've ever heard.

"Now That We Found Love"

Witty and funny and deep enough to translate his persona into an acting career, Heavy D appeared on a lot of television over the years. Here, he teaches A Different World's Whitley Gilbert a valuable lesson about the similarities between rap and opera. In short: Critics can't be trusted!

One of the few hip-hop artists to ever appear on MTV Unplugged and make it worthwhile, Heavy D and the Boyz were a part of the monumental "Uptown Unplugged" episode in 1993 -- the same one that had Jodeci tear through Stevie Wonder's "Lately." Here's "Is It Good to You."

"Is It Good to You" (Unplugged)

It was always good for us, Heavy. Thanks for all of it.

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Reed Fischer
Contact: Reed Fischer