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b. May 8, 1968 - Bronx, NY
d. August 30, 2012 - Bronx, NY
Chris Lighty paid his dues when he first got involved in hip-hop carrying record crates for DJ Red Alert and Scott La Rock. Soon Chris landed a job as roadie for the Jungle Brothers, where he networked with the Native Tongues clique. His first big break was on Black Sheep's posse cut "Pass The 40". He later teamed up with Lyor Cohen and became a staff on Rush Management.
However, Chris wanted to venture out on his own and he and formed the independent label and management group Violator with Mona Scott. After a distribution deal with Relatively Records, Violator then teamed up with Def Jam and sponsored the first Warren G album in 1994. Violator grew to house other artists such as Foxy Brown, Capone, Noreaga, Busta Rhymes, and Mobb Deep.
Violator was responsible for getting L.L. Cool J a Gap commercial in 1997. Lighty also developed endorsements for Sprite with A Tribe Called Quest, and for Mountain Dew with Busta Rhymes. In 2004, Lighty brokered 50 Cent's Vitamin Water deal, one of the largest brand endorsement deals in hip hop history. Coca-Cola paid US$4.1 billion for the company three years later, and 50 Cent walked away with $100 million while Lighty received an undisclosed sum.
In August 2012, Chris Lighty was found dead in his Bronx apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.