UPPER EAST SIDE — Some of hip-hop’s biggest names gathered on the Upper East Side on Wednesday morning to pay their last respects for rap music kingmaker Chris Lighty.
Diddy, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, and others packed into the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on Madison Avenue and East 81st Street for one final good-bye to Lighty, who managed artists ranging from A Tribe Called Quest to Mariah Carey. Lighty was found in his Bronx apartment on August 30, dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Police have ruled his death a suicide.
Vaughn Mack, a 33-year-old creative consultant who now works with Diddy, said Lighty was a mentor who let him to hang around in his office when he was just starting out in the music industry.
Mack said this was the first funeral he ever attended and the experience moved him to tears.
“He’s the first industry person that gave me that love, that open door policy," Mack said. "That’s what made me cry. He didn’t know me from nothing.”
And when he was conflicted about whether to attend his first funeral, it was considering Lighty’s compassion that convinced Mack to come.
“On my way over here, I asked myself, ‘If I passed away, would Chris Lightly come to my funeral?’ and the answer is yes,” he said. “I’m confident he would have come to my funeral, so I came to his.”
“Suga” Mike Allen, the owner of production company Flavahood, also attended the service. He remembers meeting Lighty back in 1997.
“He was a pioneer,” he said, adding, “He wasn’t afraid of anything. He never had a negative, only a positive. He thought he could do anything.”
It was Lighty’s optimism that makes it hard for Joi, a 29-year-old singer who was managed by the mogul, to believe that his death was a suicide.
“I hope they do keep looking to see what [really] happened,” Joi said.
But for Big John, a 48-year-old assistant to rapper and reality television star Flavor Flav, the manager’s death will have to remain a mystery.
“We’ll never know the truth about what happened because we don’t know what’s inside Chris’s mind,” he said.
Throughout the funeral, there was intermittent rain, which was a good sign according to John, who said he knew Lighty for a decade.
“They say when it rains, a good spirit passes into heaven,” he said. “That was Chris. He was at ease. He’s definitely at ease with his people and he will be missed.”