Stars like LL Cool J, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Missy Elliott, Q-Tip, Russell Simmons, Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, Grandmaster Flash packed the standing-room-only chapel, showing their love for Lighty, 44, who was found dead in his Bronx apartment last week. His death was ruled a suicide.
“Whatever the pressure was that made him take his life had to be tremendous pressure,” Grandmaster Flash said outside the chapel. “I just wish that Chris would have reached out and said, `Flash, I need some help, man.’ … He didn’t reach out. It’s really sad.”
Lighty was laid out in a dark suit in a coffin covered with flowers. As mourners filed past the coffin, a slideshow depicting scenes from Lighty’s life appeared on a screen.
A longtime member of the hip hop elite, Lighty worked with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator. But he was in the midst of a divorce and had been having recent financial and personal troubles.
Lighty saw it as his mission to create multifaceted entertainers who could be marketed in an array of ways: a sneaker deal here, a soft drink partnership there, a movie role down the road.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Lighty talked about creating opportunities for his stars – a Chapstick deal for LL Cool J, known for licking his lips, and a vitamin supplement deal for 50 Cent.
“As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the Internet and trading it and iPod sales continue to rise, you can’t rely on just the income that you would make off of being an artist,” he said at the time.
Survivors include his two children. He and his wife, Veronica, had been in the process of divorcing. The case was still listed as active, but electronic records show an agreement to end it was filed in June.