Heavy D, the rapper whose real name is Dwight Arrington Myers, is dead at the young age of 44. He was known for heavyset physique, his dancing and tongue-twisting rhymes.
Lt. Mark Rosen of the Beverly Hills police told the Associated Press that Heavy D died in a Los Angeles hospital Tuesday after collapsing at his condominium building. Rosen said Beverly Hills police officers were dispatched to Heavy D's condominium building Tuesday morning after receiving a report of an unconscious person laying on the walkway of a building. They found Heavy D was conscious and communicative but had difficulty breathing and was transported to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he later died.
The police found no signs of foul play. According to Rosen, Heavy D "was returning home from shopping. He experienced difficulty breathing while walking into his condominium building. He was being assisted up to his apartment by building personnel when he collapsed in an exterior hallway."
Heavy D's death comes almost a month after a comeback performance at the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, when he performed a medley of his best-known singles, among them "Nuttin' But Love," "Is It Good to You" and "Now That We Found Love."
On Twitter, he was known for posting affirming messages. His final tweet appeared early Tuesday morning.
Heavy D was born in Jamaica, and moved to Mt. Vernon, NY, when he was a child. Heavy D & The Boyz, the group which he fronted, was the first act signed to Uptown Records, the record company started by Andre Harrell.
"I remember getting him to work with then-choreographer Rosie Perez and him looking at me, like, 'Should we really do this?'," Harrell told Essence. "And I said, 'a big man dancing is going to be really fun for people. It's gonna make them love you.'"
The group enjoyed widespread fame in the early 1990s, and scored prominent cameos on hit songs with Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. Heavy D also appeared on the theme songs for the popular sketch comedy shows "In Living Color" and "MadTV," and later went on to run Uptown, the record label on which he'd spent much of his career.
But tragedy befell the group at the beginning of its commercial success. Troy Dixon, a member of the group known as Trouble T Roy, died in an accident after a show when he fell from an exit ramp. Dixon's death was the inspiration for Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)," which is widely considered one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
"It's hard because it's still unbelievable," a shocked Pete Rock told Hot 97. "I didn't expect this to happen this fast, I was just with him a couple of weeks ago," the producer revealed. "I spent the night; he didn't even want me to leave. It's like he didn't want me to go and I laughed at him ... it was crazy."
"I felt like he was my guider, my person that just put me in place. He was my #1 believer," Rock, who was also Heavy's first cousin, said while on the radio. "He was just too good to be true."
Heavy D was name-checked on the Notorious B.I.G.'s first hit single, "Juicy," in which Biggie Smalls remembered growing up and wanting the kind of fame enjoyed by rap pioneers like Heavy D and Salt 'N Pepa. A young Biggie Smalls appeared on Heavy D's 1992 album "Blue Funk."