Chris Lighty: The Black Male Suicide Stigma

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More than an music artist manager, legendary music executive Chris Lighty was a street legend who worked hard from the bottom up to the boardroom and became one of the most powerful players in hip-hop. Lighty would use the name of his former gang, the Violators, to brand his eventual Violator Management company and later, Violator Records. A shortlist of his clients reads like the who’s who of hip-hop royalty: A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, 50 Cent, Nas and so on. In 2004, Lighty brokered the largest brand endorsement deal in hip hop to date. He was the architect of what turned out to be one of the most lucrative deals in hip hop history: rapper 50 Cent’s Vitamin Water pact. When Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion for Vitamin Water’s company Glaceau three years later, 50 Cent received $100 million, and Lighty received an undisclosed sum. Because he understood the business and culture of hip-hop, he earned a reputation as a manager who spoke his artists’ language and translated it into monumental deals.