Dwight “Heavy D” Myers, 1967 – 2011.

Hip-Hop performer and actor Heavy D died on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California. Another Hip-Hop icon passes away that I never got to see perform live in person. I’m not sure when I first heard his music. Circa 1986 – 87, when his first singles and debut album, Living Large, came out, I was in the eighth grade. I remember a classmate making a passing mention of somebody with a record out called “Mr. Big Stuff”. I didn’t have cable at home, so BET (and, whenever it premiered, Yo! MTV Raps) was out. When it comes to the Chicago radio stations that were my frame of reference for new music, I’m not sure if they were playing the records.

I’m thinking that I finally caught on to 'Hev' with the second LP, Big Tyme. A classmate sold me his cassette of it, and it was one of the first rap albums I managed to pick up in my school years (mainly, I settled for taping songs of the radio with blank cassettes.) By the summer of ’89, staying with family in Detroit, cable was available, so I got to see some of his music videos on Video Jukebox (later The Box) and some stage performances.

Heavy had danceable, funky rhythm tracks, and he was a capable rhymer. His street appeal was credible but he wasn’t all the way hardcore. Unafraid to dance, Heavy had engaging stage shows with his DJ Eddie F and dancers G-Wiz and Trouble T-Roy (the latter of whom died in a tragic stage accident in 1990.) He managed to avoid low-down commentary on women, portraying himself as a plus-sized ladies’ man, aka “The Overweight Lover.”

If it was a gimmick, it was one that worked, as his records made inroads at urban radio and eventually garnered crossover sales. By his zenith in the early 90s, he was already a platinum-selling artist several times over. Even as gangster-rap gained a bigger presence on the radio, Heavy stuck to his non-guns and kept promoting his brand of Hip-Hop with a nod toward adult-contemporary sensibilities.

By the time of his death, Heavy had a journeyman’s career of sorts in acting. In 1989 he had a memorable guest-appearance/performance as himself on the sitcom A Different World. From there, he had a recurring presence on television shows like Roc and Boston Public, and had a featured role in the short-lived Tracy Morgan Show. In film, Heavy enjoyed supporting roles in films like Life, The Cider House Rules, and, ironically, a role in the just-released Tower Heist. By the late 90s he even did a stint on the off-Broadway play Riff Raff with Laurence Fishburne.
Heavy is survived by a daughter.


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