A hip-hop mogul who managed Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey has been found dead in his New York City apartment in an apparent suicide, police said.
Chris Lighty, 44, was discovered at his home in the Bronx with a gunshot wound to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
No note was recovered, but a 9mm handgun was found at the scene and there was no sign of forced entry, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. The medical examiner's office will determine a cause of death, but authorities say the shooting appears to be self-inflicted.
Lighty was behind some of rap's leading figures, helping them not only attain hit records but also lucrative careers outside of music. He had been a part of the scene for decades, working with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator.
Twitter was abuzz with condolences on his death just hours after the body was found. "Today, we lost a hip-hop hero and one of its greatest architects," wrote Russell Simmons, co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam.
Lighty was raised in the Bronx and ran with a group called The Violators, the inspiration for the name of his management company, according to the company website.
His roster ranged from Academy Award-winners Three 6 Mafia to maverick Missy Elliott to up-and-comer Papoose and perpetual star Carey. He made it his mission not so much to make musical superstars, but rather multifaceted entertainers who could be marketed in an array of ways - a training shoe deal here, a soft drink partnership there, a movie role down the road.
Lighty is survived by 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.
He was also having financial trouble. City National Bank sued Lighty, whose given name is Darrell, in April, saying he had overdrawn his account by 53,584 dollars (£33,858) and then refused to pay the balance. The case was still pending.
And New York state said in a March 2011 legal filing that Lighty owed 278,710 dollars (£176,109) in unpaid state taxes. A state website lists the lien as still being unpaid. And New York City records show that the IRS put a 55,640-dollar (£35,150) lien on Lighty and one of his companies in July.