RIP Heavy D – Things We Can Learn From the Overweight Lover’s Legacy

Hip hop legend Dwight Arrington Myers, known and loved by the world as “Heavy D,” passed away on Tuesday at the age of 44.

RIP, Heavy D.

And the news is hitting me hard for a couple of reasons. Even though I grew up in Trinidad, Heavy D was known and loved and was a big part of the soundtrack to my formative years. Listening to his music in the wake of his sudden passing is taking me back in time, to an era when hip hop music was lighthearted and fun, when it was cool to dance hard and break a sweat and do moves nobody else was doing. To an era where I didn’t feel compelled to turn down the music when my mother walked by, lest she heard some questionable lyrics. An era that portrayed a lifestyle that was desirable but didn’t seem altogether inaccessible.

I miss those days.

Heavy D died much too young, and so suddenly one can’t help but feel an enormous void in the world of hip hop. It still hurts and doesn’t sound right when you hear someone say RIP, Heavy D. In the wake of this tremendous loss, I am struck by Heavy D’s last tweet. Be Inspired. Hev inspired MANY. And here’s what I hope his legacy inspires in the hearts of hip hop fans, and in the future of the musical genre he helped to shape.

1 — Be true to YOURSELF, above all other things.

Did you ever hear about Heavy D in a rap battle? Or having beef with another rapper? Talking trash about other rappers or musicians? Getting arrested, or being in a physical altercation? I never did. From everything I’ve seen and heard and read, Heavy D was just a hard worker and a good man, who embraced his appearance and loved the ladies. He wasn’t about wanting to be surrounded by fake friends or having women in his life who weren’t about a meaningful relationship. The Overweight Lover loved women enough to never call them names.

2 — Live a good, happy life and give back to your community. We shine brightest when we shine together.
Heavy D lived an aspirational lifestyle — “Salt N Pepa, Heavy D up in the limousine” — but he remained accessible to his fans and held close ties to his neighborhood. In this beautifully penned tribute by Denene Miller of My Brown Baby, she paints a portrait of a man who was loved by the people, and in turn, loved the people.


“After his Hot 97 appearance and breakfast at the Parker Meridien, Heavy has come back to his apartment to change clothes. Now dressed to the nines in cream and black and topped off with a dark-brown fedora, he comes out of his apartment building where he lives in a bright and beautifully furnished one-bedroom bachelor pad with a spectacular Manhattan view. He graciously holds the door open to his limousine for two lady guests—a reporter and his publicist. Loud sounds—really loud sounds—suddenly pierce the air.

“Aaaaaaaaaggghhhh! It’s Heavy Deeeeeeeee!!!!!!”

Little girls. Lots of them. With cameras and pens and paper and braids flying in the air. Running. They were staking out the Regis and Kathie Lee show for some other star, got lucky and spotted the Heavster.

A not-so-big man would have pretended he didn’t see a thing. But not this big man. Heavy rolls the window down. A millisecond later, two brown hands come reaching for his cheeks.

“You’re sooooo cuuuute!” the fan says, moving his pinched face from side to side.

“Can I take a picture?” another shouts after she clicks.

“I love you, Heavy!”

He laughs.

Whenever Heavy walks down the street, everybody gives him love—little kids, young women, grandfathers, buppies, Latinas and white guys, everybody. They want to shake his hand. They smile and say “Hey, Heavy!” They spell out their names as they shove a piece of paper and pen in his face and he signs every one of them with a smile.”

That’s a beautiful image, and that’s what fame could and should be. Unfortunately as a writer and blogger, I’ve seen far too many celebrities who don’t enjoy fan interaction nearly as much, and can be off putting to the fans who are so excited to meet them.

Heavy D was a star in his own right but he never failed to put a friend on, bless an up and coming artist with a guest verse, or to do a guest cameo in a homie’s video.

It’s widely known that Heavy D was the man who took Sean “Diddy” Combs under his wing and ushered him into the record biz as an intern. His cousin Pete Rock just told a very similar story of his own success — in this interview via NahRight.com.

3 — Speak out about the things you believe in, even if they aren’t “cool”.

Heavy D never denigrated women, and he used his star power to speak out on issues that mattered to him and his community. Hev was a great contributor to KRS-One’s Stop the Violence movement, who addressed the black community with the unforgettable track Self Destruction.

When Heavy D noticed the change in hip hop’s playful spirit, he addressed his concerns with Don’t Curse, featuring Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, C.L. Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock, and a super young Q-Tip.

They definitely don’t make em like that anymore.

4 — Dancing is cool. Fun can be innocent.

Hev proved that you can mack to the ladies without being disrespectful. His songs were about being a lover, but never in a profane or sleazy way. Most often when he spoke about girls loving him or being a lover, his verses were about romancing the ladies and making them happy.

The early hits that made him a superstar also showed off his surprisingly nimble dance moves, and back in those days EVERYONE was down to dance and that’s what parties were about. This was the heyday of the house party era and Hev’s music provided the ideal soundtrack.

5 – Remember your roots. Celebrate your ancestry.

With a name like Dwight Arrington Myers, there’s not a Caribbean person alive who wouldn’t recognize Heavy D as one of our own. Even though he rapped with an American accent, Heavy D also repped Jamaica to the max and created some seminal dancehall hits with legends of the genre. His songs with Super Cat were huge hits throughout the islands.

If that song isn’t on the official soundtrack to my youth….this one definitely is.

Heavy D also collaborated with other legends of reggae and dancehall, including Frankie Paul, Cocoa Tea, Buju Banton and Sizzla. And on his 2008 reggae album the Grammy-nominated Vibes, Heavy D sang the songs of his culture. Listen to his cover of reggae classic, Queen Majesty.

Hev could sing! Who knew?

6 — Take CARE of YOURSELF.

I’m not here to discuss weight and health and the co-relationship between them…but I will admit this. Heavy D’s death was yet another wakeup call for myself and my family. I had pneumonia once, back in college and it’s a terrifying feeling, having little control over your respiratory system. I’ve struggled with my weight almost all my life, and I’ve definitely found myself feeling out of breath while climbing stairs before and it is scary and not cool at all.

In all of the articles I’ve read in researching this topic it has become apparent to me that Heavy D suffered from a syndrome many of us do regardless of weight or gender or ethnicity — the Putting Everything Ahead of Yourself syndrome. Heavy D was the kind of man who stayed up late and woke up early, traveling and touring, putting in major hours in the studio and working on his performances — and that kind of relentless grinding will take a toll on your body. He has already been added to the list of hip hop and R&B stars who died due to health issues, and it’s a tragedy that he passed away so soon and with so much more ahead of him.

In every memorial post I’ve read about Heavy D, there’s a profound sense of loss. Russell Simmons called him “the only rapper everybody always loved.” His dear friend dream hampton spoke warmly of his proudest role — that of father to his 13 year old daughter. She tweeted “Hev’s daughter is 13. She’s probably not had 10 whole mornings in her life when he didn’t share breakfast with her. Pray for her.”

As much as fans feel heartache at the loss of Heavy D, his family and closest friends will feel it even more. Sadness all around.

RIP, Heavy D. The whole world is sending you love and wishing you a peaceful journey.

Please share your favorite Heavy D songs and memories with me in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Heavy D seemed to be a genuine, loving, talented person, the kind of guy you want in your ‘circle’. His music will continue to bring a smile to my face and remind me of simpler times when hip hop didn’t make me worry about the future of our youth.

    Vee

  2. Thanks for sharing. I still have a lump in my throat. Finding it hard to process. Through it all, I will STAY inspired. Thank you Heavy D!

  3. What a lovely, thoughtful tribute to this legend and gentleman. Thank you for highlighting the man through his music, which speaks volumes for the kind of human he was. I thank God for his legacy. Fly with the angels, Heavy. You’ll be missed, but never forgotten.

  4. The BET Hip Hop Awards came on again last night, and I watched him in his final televised performance. My heart was heavy. His music was upbeat, happy and just plain FUN!!

    He will be truly, truly missed. My heart goes out to his 13 year old daughter. :(

  5. Awesome tribute, Bella. Honorable. Poetic. Thought inspiring. Heavy would be proud. Thank you for taking time to post. His spirit on this earth will be missed.

  6. Thank you so much. As a 70s born child I grew up on Heavy D, New Edition, Big Daddy Kane and more, but your tribute gave me so much information that I was totally unaware of. (How did I miss “Don’t Curse”; strange, because I don’t but can’t say it’s because of this rap song tho if I had known about it I would have held it up as an example to young people whom I hear speak nowadays so filthy). I don’t keep up anymore as I approach 40 with the music or film scene. Good music, good rappers, none of it has seemed to transform the black community so why bother. I was totally unaware of his comeback on BET Hip Hop Awards or that he was in Tower Heist (which I was going to wait until it came out on Netflix). And all I can think is “Why now?” for him. He was making a comeback. Looks like he had written a screenplay that was being looked over by Brett Ratner who has gone through his own scandal days ago. And all I can think in response to my own question is “Why now? We never know when. So we have got to do the best with this moment.” Hev definitely did the best he could with his living moments. He worked with both Janet and Michael. Eddie and lots of rappers. Put P Diddy on and so many more. And Russell Simmons has so far said it best. He was a good father, he didn’t curse, he wasn’t a misogynist–he was truly a lover. RIP Hev.

  7. Awesome post :-)

  8. R.I.P Heavy D. He also had a small cameo in the movie Tower Heist that just came out not to long ago.

  9. My fave song would have to be “We got our own thing.” I can remember being in high school and playing that song over and over. I was (and still am) in shock when I heard the news. My hubby called and told me to look on the front page of Yahoo.

    He was so charismatic and always seemed like he loved what he was doing. To me, those are the best entertainers, the ones that are tickled over the fame and love doing what they do.

  10. RIP Heavy D.

  11. That is sad news. Also this is the first time I am learning about his death. He was a great artist.

  12. Heavy was a great guy. I meet him years ago in 1992 at a music conference and the thing I remeber most is after a friend of his pinch my friend on her tail she kind of giggled and passed it off as we do when we don’t want to make fuss. Heavy gave her a big hug and said “Never let a man disrepect you like that”

  13. May he rest in peace. Heart felt condolences goes out to his family.

  14. RIP Heavy D – his demeanour made you feel he was a well loved brother or cousin – he was family.

  15. Such a moving tribute…bravo! I was shocked and saddened when I heard of Heavy D’s untimely passing. He was only 2 years older than me and I definetly felt a connection with him because of that. As a female, I always appreciated the respect he showed women in his music… such a class act!

    I hope his wife & daughter gain solice knowing that Heavy D left behind a legacy of fun music, love and respect… his fans will always remember him for those things!

    I’m so glad Heavy D was recognized with a BET award shortly before he passed… it was MUCH deserved!

    Now…

    I’m going to listen to a bunch of his songs right now… More Bounce to the Ounce, Somebody For Me, The Overweight Lover, Girls the Girls They Love Me… and on and on!

    Rest in Peace Heavy, You will be missed!

  16. crystal g. says:

    That was a beautiful post. I was pretty young when Heavy D first came out but I remembered his energy as a little girl. I watched a lot of the t.v. show ‘Digfferent World’ as a child, and he had an appearance on there- he was a PHENOMENAL entertainer. RIP to him- God bless his soul and his friends and family

  17. I love it so much. Thanks a lot.

  18. This is a beautiful tribute to Heavy D. Probably the best one I’ve seen yet. My fondest memory of Heavy D: I was 15 yrs old, attending one of my first rap concerts, starring Salt-n-Pepa, Heavy D & the Boyz, and Whodini, at the Miami Arena. The arena was not packed so me and a friend spotted Heavy D standing behind the stage area and we decided to walk over to say hello. Being the silly little girls we were, we decided to get closer until security stopped us. Fortunately, I got close enough to Heavy D and boldly asked if I could take a picture of him. He agreed and posed in a homeboy stance. I was happy and he was so cool about it. It was my first encounter with a celebrity so I didn’t know what to expect. It sounds corny but now that he’s passed I wished I still had that photo from my youth. RIP Heavster!

  19. I have to correct something–rap battling was not violent or vicious. It was HEALTHY COMPETITION that flexed one’s lyrical spontaneous and creative muscle. So it seems as if the person writing this is not well-informed on hip hop terminology.

    But anyway, I loved him very much.
    in the last few years–Jay Dilla, Gang Starr, Apache, Nate Dogg and now Heavy D. None of them reached 50! Of course there’s a black male shortage!!

  20. I’m still reeling from this. Heav was popular back when it wasn’t a crime to use the word “love” in a rap song. He was never connected to scandal, always respectful and always delivered fun music you could move to!

  21. ((TEARS)) RIP, see you in the Resurrection Heavy D. It’s amazing the cool and classy always the first to go!

  22. It was HEALTHY COMPETITION that flexed one’s lyrical spontaneous and creative muscle.
    Heav was popular back when it wasn’t a crime to use the word “love” in a rap song.

  23. Hey are using WordPress for your site platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own.
    Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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