Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Thoughts On Heavy D

I was starting to post some thoughts on Twitter last night. But, they were coming too fast and my signal was choppy. Plus, there are much more important people to me that all of you want to hear from more I'm sure. D-Nice had some good anecdotes. I'm sure Hev's cousin Pete Rock did too. I'll have to check today. Apparently, Heavy D's last tweet of his own read "Be Inspired". Those are good last words, I think. Words which serve to encourage others.

I was in my wife's car yesterday afternoon, and one thing we had talked about was Heavy D's appearance on Law & Order: SVU recently. Literally ten minutes later I got a text that he had died. It took me by surprise. I know the size was in his name, but Heavy D wasn't really all that heavy anymore. When people are young (he was 44) and healthy it's hard to imagine them dying. And, 44?!?! That was surprising too. I think his first album came out in 1987. That would have made him 20 at the time! He always seemed older to me though. Maybe because I was so young when I started listening to his music.

I first heard Heavy D & The Boyz on a song called "We Got Our Own Thang" off of his second album. I didn't have the album. I had the 2nd volume of the Yo! MTV Raps compilation, and it appeared on there. I was a very young kid, but I loved his rhyme style, and the way he said "diddly-diddly-dee". It was fun. It was something I would practice too. In the early 90's, Hev started popping up everywhere. He did the theme song to In Living Color (if you're not from that era just know that EVERYONE watched that show), appeared on Yo! MTV Raps (which I watched religiously back then), appeared as himself on A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and had an actual role for several episodes on Roc that I'll always remember. 

I ran out to buy his 1991 album Peaceful Journey largely off the strength of his personality, and the lead single "Now That We Found Love" featuring Aaron Hall. I remember he wore a black jumpsuit that looked like a garbage bag in the video - this was years before Missy wore something similar in her video. I'm not saying it was fashionable, but it was memorable. I listened to this tape over and over and over again. It was this album that helped me understand a little more about how Hip Hop came together with DJs, Producers, MCs, and samples. I also got to know who Pete Rock was, and how great it was to hear a 'posse cut' with a bunch of great rappers on the same song. "Don't Curse" is still my all-time favorite. Raw beat. Dope verses. The song is infectious to this day. And, Big Daddy Kane was my favorite MC at the time. So, to hear him on a Heavy D song made me like Hev even more, I think. While Heavy D clearly shined on the album, he brought in one hell of a supporting cast including K-Ci & JoJo (way before they broke away from Jodeci), Aaron Hall, Kane, CL Smooth, Grand Puba, Q-Tip, and Johnny Gill which rounded out the Uptown Records sound he was putting out there.

Heavy D had a light, fun, and soulful approach to Hip Hop even while others were getting more and more street. He didn't try to keep up with trends. He, well, had his own thang...going on. He hardly cursed (and encouraged other MCs not to on "Don't Curse" to show Hip Hop haters that they could do it, even if they didn't always want to), and that made older people accept him, and thus, be more accepting of Hip Hop too. He was able to express himself anyway. Imagine that. 

Now, I won't sit here and say he was the greatest rapper to ever pick up a microphone. He wasn't (though he was underrated). But, he had style and personality to match his unique talent. He had skills. He was nonthreatening and genuine. He positioned himself as a lover with many songs on each album about women (not bitches) and it worked. He drew people in and pushed Hip Hop culture forward. He developed new talent ("Heavy D and Who!?!?!?"), produced great songs (Beanie Sigel's "Feel it in the Air" is amazing), became a serious actor, and began to record some decent reggae music as well.

Dwight "Heavy D" Myers was a real talent, and to hear his peers tell it, was a genuinely good person. I will miss what he brought to the Hip Hop/entertainment industry, and I'm sure his loved ones will miss the person they got to spend time with during their lifetime. 

R.I.P. Heavy Diddley-Diddley- D

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