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Heavy D: An Appreciation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images for Bacardi

    Rap legend Heavy D, who grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 44.

    Heavy D -- born Dwight Arrington Myers -- cut albums (1987's Living Large, 1989's Big Tyme) and singles ("The Overweight Lover's In The House," "Don't You Know,"  "We Got Our Own Thang")  that, alongside peers like the Beastie Boys and L.L. Cool J, helped hip-hop break through to a wider market.

    Myers was also an actor, appearing in television shows like "Roc" and "Living Single" and films such as "The Cider House Rules" and the recently opened "Tower Heist." He also wrote the theme song for the Fox sketch comedy program "In Living Color."

    As a lyricist, Myers might not be considered in the upper echelon alongside Notorious B.I.G. and Rakim, but his legacy is secure.

    Hip-hop has always drawn a thick line in the sand about what is and isn't hip-hop, what is and isn't hard and what is and isn't acceptable, but on singles like "Now That We Found Love" Myers ignored those rules, rhyming on tracks that pulled heavily from dance music and the then in-vogue new jack swing R&B movement, creating huge party songs that invited everyone, especially the oft-neglected female rap fans, to raise their hands together and have a good time.

    That Myers would place a song like "Love" on an album, 1991's Peaceful Journey, that also had him hold his own alongside Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip and Kool G. Rap, says a lot about his artistic confidence and scope, and explains why everyone from Diddy to Talib Kweli to Jay-Z at Tuesday night's show have paid their respects.