Updated: May 10, 2019
The founder of Violator Records, Chris Lighty, would've been 51 years old today. Instead of focusing on his death which is surrounded in controversy with many people who were close to him saying that his death was not a suicide, (He was found with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but the circumstances raise many doubts.) we will focus on his life and contributions to the culture.
Chris Lighty got his start carrying records for DJ Red Alert and later worked for Russell Simmons' company, Rush Artist Management. He eventually named his startup label after the gang he was associated with in the Bronx, Violator. He was responsible for brokering deals that saw LL Cool J in a commercial for GAP, Busta Rhymes getting a Mountain Dew endorsement, as well as one of the most lucrative deals in Hip Hop history, 50 Cent's Vitamin Water pact. The Vitamin Water deal alone was worth 4.1 billion. Those historical deals along with many more changed the way Hip Hop was perceived by the corporate world. Hip Hop was what the people wanted and Chris Lighty was a huge piece of the puzzle towards it getting the exposure it deserved.