Danyel Smith wrote a great piece about Lighty over at NPR:
Chris himself moved through life with a smooth, mean grace cultivated with his siblings, the notorious Lighty Brothers, in the rust and rubble of the ’70s and ’80s Bronx. This during an era when crack was only wack if you were doing it (as opposed to selling it) and when hip-hop was learning to walk in the Sedgwick Avenue apartment of DJ Kool Herc. Chris Lighty has been down with hip-hop since Day One. He comes from a generation of entrepreneurs — Russell Simmons, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter — who dared act a part close to their actual selves in corporate America. They studied Berry Gordy and Ahmet Ertegun. They told each other tragedy-laced stories about black artists of the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s who “died broke,” or “didn’t keep their publishing,” or just plain old got played by a business that used and abused them. Lighty — and I know this because he’s told me — wasn’t having any of that. He wanted to, and did, win.
Writing for Complex, Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, explains what is was about Lighty’s character that helped him take Rap to another level:
What I do know is that Chris had seen his share of problems over the years and succeeded despite it all. It’s what made him so compelling as a character. Chris Lighty was passionately and sometimes violently loyal to his friends. The boy who busted up the Latin Quarter with his crew the Violators became the man who faced down Suge Knight to protect his mentor, Lyor Cohen. It’s that same heart that made him feel so acutely the pain of betrayal by people like Cohen, or Michael Ovitz, or any number of knuckleheaded artists who, to paraphrase that great poet Jerry Maguire, just couldn’t help Lighty help them.
In related news, Dave Lighty shared some of the suspicions he has about the circumstances of his brother’s death with Lisa Evers. The death has now been officially ruled a suicide by the medical examiner. Audio below via IFWT.
Finally, DJ Wonder’s Lighty tribute mix. Tracklist here.
Previously: Lisa Evers Reports on Death of Chris Lighty