Chris Lighty funeral attendees include LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, 50 Cent
The 44-year-old manager of Mariah Carey, Sean "Diddy" Combs and 50 Cent was found dead in his Bronx apartment last week with a gunshot wound to the head. The New York City medical examiner's office ruled it a suicide.
Speaking outside the chapel, Grandmaster Flash said he wished Lighty had reached out to him for help. He says Lighty must have been under "tremendous pressure," adding, "it's really sad."
Before the service, mourners filed past his open casket. Lighty was laid out in a dark suit, surrounded by arrangements of white flowers. A slide show depicting his life appeared on a screen.
Lighty was raised in the Bronx and ran with a group called The Violators, the inspiration for the name of his management company, according to the company website. He was a player in the hip-hop game since he was a kid DJ. He rose through the ranks at Rush Management (Simmons' first company) before eventually founding Violator Management in the late 1990s. (Mona Scott and James Cruz are partners).
His roster ranged from Academy Award-winners Three 6 Mafia to maverick Missy Elliott to up-and-comer Papoose and perpetual star Carey. He made it his mission not so much to make musical superstars, but rather multifaceted entertainers who could be marketed in an array of ways: a sneaker deal here, a soft drink partnership there, a movie role down the road.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Lighty talked about creating opportunities for his stars — a Chapstick deal for LL Cool J, known for licking his lips, a vitamin supplement deal for 50 Cent.
"As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the Internet and trading it and iPod sales continue to rise, you can't rely on just the income that you would make off of being an artist," he said at the time.