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Heavy D’s Final Words: “Be Inspired!”

A successful rapper, actor and businessman, what set Heavy D apart was his perpetual light

Dwight "Heavy D" Myers 1967 - 2011

BE INSPIRED!

There was no way for Heavy D to know that his last words to the world would be such a succinct and sparkling tweet. But even if he had, this entertainer—who used his gift for stringing words into rap to create some of hip-hop’s most beloved classics—could have left us with nothing better.

Like everyone, I was shocked to hear of the 44-year-old rapper/actor’s death from presumed respiratory failure on November 8. I came of age as hip-hop came on the scene and, while I’m no rap aficionado by any stretch, I loved Heavy D.

We had a few things in common: West Indian heritage and geographic proximity, for starters. I came up in the Bronx, a few miles south of his hometown, Mt. Vernon, NY. So I had a sense of growing up in roughly the same time and place as Heavy (né Dwight Arrington Meyers). We also shared a love of music and of words. We had a respect for how both could help shape and reshape the world; how they could heal, uplift and, without question, inspire.

As hip-hop became increasingly associated with darker forces—ignorance, self-hate, drugs, violence, misogyny—Heavy kept it mostly light, but he somehow managed to keep it real at the same time. He found ways to acknowledge the complexities of life in his music, and to address the harsh conditions in our communities, our homes, and our souls, while still celebrating the good, the promising, and the joy. He managed to call it like he saw it without condemning or demeaning others. When he encouraged fans to “say ho” it was a shout-out to raise the roof, not defile women. When he rapped about losing siblings or friends tragically and too soon, he never let his pain overrun his positivity; he never let his anger crush his charm.

At a time when a lot of his hip-hop peers became invested in posturing, pimping, and perpetrating, the “overweight lover” really did exude love—for himself, his community, his family, his fans, and his art. In a business often criticized for engendering narcissism and divisiveness, Heavy stepped out of the box to explore acting to collaborate with a diverse (and enviable) group that included Michael Jackson, the Notorious B.I.G. and blues great B.B. King. He also spotted and promoted new talent.

A brokenhearted Sean “Diddy” Combs tweeted, “Heavy D gave me my 1st chance in the music industry. He got me my internship at Uptown [Records]. He believed when no one else did.”

When Heavy appeared on the BET Hip Hop Awards a few weeks ago—his first live rap performance in more than a decade—the audience was a mirror for what he gave: They were up on their feet, dancing, every face smiling, every mouth rapping along with him, especially when he diddly-diddly-diddly-deed. Everybody was having a party, feeling nothing but good.

In the last few months, Heavy seemed poised for a comeback. In addition to performing again, he released an album, Love Opus, and he appears in the recent Eddie Murphy film, Tower Heist. But it’s that last tweet of his that has had the most reach so far. Heavy wrote tens of thousands of words in his short life, many of which we’ll all be dancing to and singing with for a long time, but in just two final words he managed to capture the simple power of his positive legacy.

So let’s answer the call and Be Inspired, by his art, his attitude, his authenticity, remembering that what truly set Heavy apart was his perpetual light.

Any fan of hip-hop would appreciate the new coffee table book, Hip Hop, A Cultural Odyssey. To purchase your copy of Hip Hop, A Cultural Odyssey click here and every 10 books sold will result in a copy being donated to a HBCU library.

 

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

    To paraphrase one my fave Heavy D songs, I got nothin’ but love for that brother–and I miss him terribly already.

    Thanks for this wonderful tribute to the laughter, the light and the uplift that made Heavy D unique. “Be Inspired!,” he tweeted. Indeed, always and forever, by his example.

    Fred

  • Chris Henderson

    I agree with the authors writings in the article up above and I also agree with Alfred’s writings. Heavy D will be missed. He represents Hip Hop when it was uplifting and positive. Now, it is excriment from the bowels of incarcirated community passed off as music. I who grew up loving Hip Hop in the late 80′s and well through the 90′s. Presently, I am now embarrassed, disgusted, repulsed and really can’t stand to listen to the music at this point in my life. My favorite song of Heavy D’s, I searched low and searched high to try to find myself a cutie pie, but destination keep leading me to a dead in over and over again. It seems that everytime I find the right girl she turns out to be the wrong when will this madness stop. I need somebody to love me for me not because I’m MC Heavy D.,

  • Gina

    I wish we could make copies of Heavy D because like both writers above said this world of hip hop today is full of anger. Nothing positive or uplifting for our brothers & sisters and we wonder why the youth in this world are becoming who they are. We even have grown men and women looking like pimps & whores. So hats off to Heavy D an incredible man. He stay true to his convistions when everyone else followed. I hope he is in a better place. It always seem the good ones always go first. Maybe its a good reason for that. RIP Heavy D.

  • Gina

    I wish we could make copies of Heavy D because like both writers above said this world of hip hop today is full of anger. Nothing positive or uplifting for our brothers & sisters and we wonder why the youth in this world are becoming who they are. We even have grown men and women looking like pimps & whores. So hats off to Heavy D an incredible man. He stayed true to his convictions when everyone else followed. I hope he is in a better place. It always seem the good ones always go first. Maybe its a good reason for that. RIP Heavy D.

  • http://blackenterprise.com Janell Hazelwood

    This was an awesome article and definitely an inspiration to me. Heavy D leaves a legacy behind that gives a great example about being true to self. For him, being true to self and reflecting that in his craft was the dances, the suits, the smile and the community work.

    I also want to point out that, my perspective on today’s hip-hop differs. I grew up in the 80s, 90s and now into today, so I’ve seen a diversity of styles and perspectives, from the days of Slick Rick to today’s Big Sean and Lil Wayne. I don’t think this is a time to bash today’s hip-hop. Even in Heavy’s day there was “negative” hip-hop, and the beginnings of gangsta rap. It’s all about balance if you ask me. Everyone can’t be the same or talk about the same things in their art. And life is not always roses. Sometimes people have to point out pain to get to solutions. And in today’s world we STILL have the Mos Defs, the Wales, the Talibs, and other underground artists who real hip-hop heads are aware of.

    I think it’s best to just remember his legacy, inform the youth who don’t know about him, and keep it poistive.

  • caroline

    Great balanced perspective, Janell. Thank you for that! Like I said, Heavy managed to keep it real without condemning others; we would do well to follow that lead. We’re so quick to express our harsh judgments, jealousy and shame for and to each other. Heavy told his truth, but it came from a place of wanting us all to rise together, to lift each other, and to love each other. Can’t we try?

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