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Heavy D’s Impact On Hip-Hop Cannot Be Overstated


There have been a number of valiant attempts to highlight some of the most significant Hip-Hop moments, milestones and people of the last half century. The 2023 Grammy Awards dedicated nearly 15 minutes to an epic tribute featuring performances by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Salt-N-Pepa, Rakim, Public Enemy, Posdnuos, Scarface, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, Method Man, Big Boi, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Too Short, The LOX, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert and more. The performance also featured a screen in the background that listed the names of countless other artists who were not able to grace the stage.

The 2023 BET Awards took a different approach. The telecast featured performances throughout the entire 4-hour spectacle, rather than setting aside one chunk of time for its Hip-Hop 50th anniversary tribute. The show paid showcased artists from multiple eras and regions, including Redman, Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Trina, Trick Daddy, Master P, Warren G, YG, Tyga, T.I., Fat Joe, Remy Ma and more. Busta Rhymes also was presented with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite the inclusiveness of these tributes, there were a number of notable omissions, and one name loomed large: Heavy D.

Hip-Hop Legends From The Last 50 Years Gave The Most Iconic Tribute Ever

Last week, Pete Rock, the legendary producer and cousin to Heavy D, posted sharp words on Instagram regarding what he saw as a major omission. “I respect absolutely NONE of this talk about 50 years of Hip-Hop that does not include HEAVY D & The Boyz,” wrote Rock. “He KICKED DOWN the door and paved a way for A LOT OF MOTHERFU_____S!! I think his smoothness and humbleness makes people forget his impact and relevance in the music business.”

The Chocolate Boy wonder continued by exhorting others to speak out in support of his missive. “I NEED EVERY ONE WHO AGREES (ESPECIALLY EVERYBODY FOR MONEY EARNING MOUNT VERNON!!) TO REPOST AND SHARE SO WE CAN GET HEV A PROPER TELEVISED TRIBUTE for his achievements and contributions to the game. #HeavyD RIP DWIGHT MYERS.”

Following the post, some very notable names co-signed Pete’s powerful words. Queen Latifah wrote in the comments “Heav was my friend. [He] put us on his tour and showed us what rocking a crowd was About!!! Love to him his family and his whole crew!”

Snoop Dogg kept it short and to the point, simply writing “Facts. Big. Tyme.” Snoop’s comment was both support for Heavy D, as well as a sly reference to the artist born Dwight Myers’ second album, titled Big Tyme.

Actor Omari Hardwick of Power fame commented “I also agree with you my brother … that folk (especially in our culture) who make things look easy while equally possessing humility…usually get overlooked and undervalued. Heav was special and I know he’s smiling with pride & humility at this powerful post from you, Rock!”

Despite Hardwick’s words, the Overweight Lover’s impact cannot be overlooked or overstated. This week, longtime Ambrosia For Heads-affiliate Justin “The Company Man” Hunte and AFH have been involved in an ongoing dialogue. We decided to join forces and give Heav props that are long overdue.

Judging by sheer commercial success alone, Heavy D is a heavyweight. The Mount Vernon MC/producer saw three of his albums go platinum and two go gold, at a time where that was exceedingly uncommon for Rap artists. The Heavster also became the guest MC of choice for some of the biggest artists in the world, including Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson (arguably the biggest of all-time).

The length of Heavy D’s run at his peak powers also was outsized. Most artists are lucky to have a five-year period in which their releases dominate the charts. This applies to some of the all-time greats, including Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, Redman, and even Tupac and Biggie, although tragedy cut their careers short. Heavy D had a 10-year run of hits, from 1987’s “Mr. Big Stuff” to 1997’s “Big Daddy,” the hits just kept coming.

Heavy D also embodied the definition of a true MC. His cadence was impeccable, no matter the style of production. He effortlessly flowed over everything from James Brown samples (“The Overweight Lover’s In The House“), to House Music (“Now That We Found Love“) to New Jack Swing (“We Got Our Own Thang”) and Reggae (“Mood For Love”). He also had incredible swagger when he was performing, demonstrating complicated choreography and incredible dexterity, especially for a man his size. When Heavy D was on stage, he ROCKED THE HOUSE.

Dwight Myers’ content also showcased his versatility. He could get the party started, for sure, but he touched on heavy topics too. He mourned the loss of his dancer, Troy “T-Roy” Dixon, on “Peaceful Journey.” Also, in a genre that was growing increasingly explicit in its language, Heavy D went against the grain and made a song where he challenged his guests not to curse.

Heavy D’s impact cannot be simply measured by his music. His reach extended far beyond the microphone. As the first artist signed to Uptown Records, he was the foundation and personification of the label with its self-proclaimed “ghetto fabulousness.”

Heavy D was the person who coaxed Uptown founder, Andre Harrell, to give an intern by the name of Sean “Puffy” Combs a shot. Heavy knew Puff from their shared hometown of Mount Vernon. That hire birthed the careers of Mary J. Blige and Jodeci at Uptown, and then all of Comb’s storied signings at his own Bad Boy Record label. In many ways, The Notorious B.I.G. was Puff Daddy’s Heavy D—a big man who could rap his ass off and do so while being “Coogi down to the socks.”

Heavy’s impact extended beyond Uptown (and Bad Boy), as well. While Teddy Riley was already on the rise, having produced Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show,” Kool Moe Dee’s “Go See The Doctor,” and more. Teddy’s trajectory took off even more after helming nearly all of Heavy’s Living Large album. And, of course, there’s Pete Rock. Pete regularly credits his cousin for giving him his start.

As The Company Man points out, Heavy’s ear was so well respected that he “was promoted to President of Uptown records where he signed smash boy band Soul For Real.” Hunte also points out that DJ Premier names Heavy D as the person who got him his first gold record, by way of Preemo’s work on Heavy’s Blue Funk album.

But, his reach does not stop there. Heavy D was one of the early Hip-Hop pioneers, along with Will Smith, Queen Latifah, and Ice-T and others, to kick in the Hollywood doors. In fact, from 2000 to 2012, he made far more films than he did albums.

Given his impact, reach, longevity, consistency, critical acclaim and outsized commercial success, Heavy D should be mentioned in EVERY Hip-Hop 50th anniversary tribute…Excluding nobody.

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