After a conversation with a colleague, I realized just how much of a disconnect there was between what we now consider “old school” hip-hop and new trends in hip-hop. The conversation was prompted by the passing of Heavy D at the tender age of 44. As pointed out in this piece in the Washington Post, the self-proclaimed “Overweight Lover” had lyrics that were both positive and playful. Yet, he hit social issues. Like when he “murdered the track” in his appearance on KRS-One’s anthem, “Self Destruction“.
The Post article summarizes it well:
Before Biggie Smalls, before Rick Ross, there was Heavy D. A rapper who reveled- even celebrated- in having a bit of heft in the gut.
As I spoke to my colleague, she talked about Heavy trying to reinvent himself. He was working in the studio on a new album in an effort to remain relevant. Not sure that he should have tried to reinvent himself. Call it nostalgia, but I didn’t want a reinvented Heavy D. I don’t want a reinvented Kane. I don’t want a reinvented Kool Moe D. I understand the desire to remain relevant when acts with half your talent can pack out stadiums, while you struggle to pack out a smaller venue. Sometimes that’s the cost you pay for being a pioneer.
For many, Heavy D will always remain relevant. The Overweight Lover will always be…the Overweight Lover. Despite the ever changing cultural shifts in hip-hop, Heavy D will always be one of the first. One of the first rappers to become a president of a major label. One of the first rappers to appear in a Sprite commercial (yes, even before Drizzy). One of the first rappers to cross over into serious acting roles. And who can forget his cameo appearance on “A Different World”. Classic Heavy right there.
The words of his last Tweet tell the story of his life:
I close with a mashup of one of my favorite hip-hop tracks and one of my favorite entertainers/rappers: Heavy D. Thanks for the memories man.
[audio:http://brotherpreacher.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Nothin-But-Love-When-They-Reminisce-Statik-Selektah-Blend_Remix1.mp3|titles=Nothin But Love (When They Reminisce Statik Selektah Blend_Remix)]