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Even though Baby Chris didn’t recognize his own born day, we do by celebrating his works

Yesterday was Chris Lighty’s birthday, but he was raised in a very structured Jehovah’s Witness household so he never celebrated birthdays or holidays. Chris became the most influential hip hop manager through his management and marketing imprint, Violator. Violator was the real Empire before Lee Daniels hit series. The impressive roster included Missy Elliot, P. Diddy, 5O Cent, Foxy Brown, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Mariah Carey, Mobb Deep and more.

To the outside world, Chris Lighty was an alluring powerful executive who negotiated unprecedented deals with his partner, Mona Scott-Young but to Mike Lighty, Chris was a brother and father. Outside of his insane work ethic he had layers about him that made him a remarkable human being, friend, mentor and support system to many people.

“It’s taken me 2 years to even sit down and talk about Chris to someone. I haven’t done this. So for me to talk to you today shows progress and how my faith has strengthened me along with my family and friends,”

begins Mike Lighty.

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“I try to remain positive and I would like to think that through my faith and if I live right then one day I’ll be able to see my brother again. Yo Gotti and Rick Ross have really helped me a lot through this and I’m thankful for my friends who make sure I answer the phone no matter what. All of this helps. Our family is trying to move forward the best we can but Chris was the nucleus of our family. We were from the hood and there were six of us and just my mother so he raised us at 17. He was an electrician at 17, helping provide for us. Chris worked on trains and buildings but music meant everything to him. When he would babysit us he had us doing dance offs and listening to music.  He could have just been a successful electrician but music took him to different places. He was carrying D.J Red Alert’s crates and mapping out his dream for us. D.J Red Alert gave him his break and Chris never looked back.

Through Violator management, Chris and Mona became the cerebrum of hip hop, developing and sustaining careers while structuring lucrative marketing and branding deals that helped grow hip hop into becoming a viable entity- cementing its place in popular culture.

“Hip Hop was everything to Chris,” says Mona.

I’m so proud of what Chris has done for our culture. I’m proud that the young guy that I sat next to on a stoop in the Bronx was able to conceptualize a dream and really make it happen.  Everything we sat out to do we did.  We stayed focused and accomplished it all.  So much of who I am today has everything to do with the fact that Chris had a dream. My relationships, my ability to leverage the success of hip hop into mainstream culture and our ability to provide opportunities to others came from Chris. We locked arms, came together and his dream became my dream.“

Mike attributes the success of Violator to the balance Chris and Mona had along with the ability to pick a great staff and do honest business. He credits Chris with his own success as one of the country’s top booking managers.  Mike’s Emmel Communications firm continues to flourish as the go to booking agency for top acts.  He plans on putting together a new Violator compilation album saying all the acts that Violator has worked with can just send him their verses. 

“Chris wanted everyone to be successful. I want to continue this,” says Mike.

 Mona adds to this saying, “Even with all his tough exteriors, Chris was the most compassionate and caring person you could meet. He didn’t want anyone around him to ever struggle.  He was a father to many of our clients.  He wanted success for everyone. Chris carried the weight of all of that on his shoulders. When someone needed, advice, money and support they leaned on Chris. It’s ironic that we’re talking about his birthday because in his faith, the traditional trappings that people enjoy were never a part of his life and this shaped who he was. There was a shyness about him.  The spotlight is something he stayed away from. He was reluctant to celebrate himself. So I would like to celebrate Chris and wish him a happy birthday,” says Mona.

-Abesi Manyando(@abesipr)