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RIP Heavy D: Larger than life, too large to be forgotten

Dwight ‘Heavy D’ Errington Myers died yesterday (8 November 2011) at the age of 44. Today, GrownNSexy pays tribute to the ‘Overweight Lover MC’ – arguably the most charismatic and charming figure of the 1990s hip-hop scene. Gone too soon, Hev’. Gone too soon.

Starting out in 1986 as the frontman for Uptown Records’ first signing – Heavy D & the Boyz – Hev’ loomed large in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s as the smooth-talking teddy bear that everybody loved.  His musical appeal was just as wide; his ability to mix elements of R&B, reggae, dance, and pop to match his quick lyrical wit and even quicker tongue ensured crossover success without ever being in danger of being labelled a sell-out.

He and the group were pioneers in the art of blending hip-hop and RnB – yet he made it seem effortless. Choosing always to go with charm over aggression and sensuality over sex, he could transition from the cheeky punch of “Mr Big Stuff” to the romance of “Now That We Found Love” and straight-up seduction of “Got Me Waiting” (as performed with Silk), without skipping a beat. I remember how he got us excited on a regular basis everytime we heard his familiar voice on the theme song of In Living Colour. And who could ever forget his energetic raps on Michael Jackson’s “Jam”?

But Heavy D’s success wasn’t just confined to the music studio. He was an agile dancer, a successful business man and a naturally-gifted actor. He split his time in the early-to-mid 90s between playing recurring characters on the Fox sitcoms Roc and Living Single and working as vice president of A&R at Uptown. Later, his acting credits would also go on to include a starring role in the Laurence Fishburne created-and-directed off-Broadway play, Riff Raff; a part in the 1999 Eddie Murphy & Martin Lawrence comedy, Life; a prominent supporting role in the Oscar-nominated drama The Cider House Rules; and a recurring role as a counsellor on Boston Public.

But what made Heavy D a true GrownNSexy spirit was the fact that what he was in art, he was in life too. A quick glance at his Twitter page will confirm that. He was a positive force in the lives of the people who knew him as well as those who didn’t. Upon finding out about his passing, DJ Clue reminisced about the inspirational talks he got from Hev when Clue was first starting out in the game. John Legend said, “I’m so sad about Hev. He really was a wonderful person.” Ice-T, who also acted alongside him on Law and Order, is said to have tweeted that Heavy D was always “part of what’s good about the world.”

It’s only fitting then, that Hev’s last tweet was this:

Wherever you are Hev, you don’t have to worry… We are inspired. Because of you.

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