The legendary Dwight “Heavy D” Myers passed away on the afternoon of November 8, 2011 in Los Angeles, California around 1pm PST at an LA Hospital.
The loss of Myers signaled another painful reminder that popular culture is losing our legends at an alarming rate. Numerous current and past entertainers expressed their sentiments via Twitter and other media outlets. His groundbreaking arrival on the urban music scene in the late 1980s was instrumental in fortifying the foundations of Hip Hop and New Jack Swing genres respectively.
His incandescent wordplay and earth shattering dance moves were undeniably infectious. He became the quintessential lovable big guy and audiences gravitated en masse to his genius. He was a songwriter and actor that had the foresight to be a step ahead of his contemporaries during his prominent career.
Dwight Arrington Myers was born on May 24, 1967 in Jamaica to Eulahlee Lee, a nurse and Clifford Vincent Myers, a machine technician. Myers spent his formative years in Mount Vernon, NY where he became best friends with Al B. Sure!. At the tender age of eight, Myers began performing rap songs and by the time he was a teenager he was recording demo tapes of his own works. Alongside his high school comrades, Eddie “DJ Eddie F” Ferrell, Glen “G-Whiz” Parrish and Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon, he formed Heavy D & The Boyz.
As an executive at Def Jam Recordings, Andre Harrell yearned to cement his own legacy by starting his own record label. In 1986, this dream came to fruition. Upon hearing one of their demo tapes, Harrell signed Heavy D & The Boyz to a record deal at his new label, Uptown Records. The following year the group’s debut album, Living Large would be released in the autumn of 1987 to the public at large. The album featured production from Teddy Riley, Marley Marl and Eddie “DJ Eddie F” Ferrell.
The first single “Mr. Big Stuff” would peak at #60 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #61 on the UK Singles Chart. The follow up single, “Don’t You Know” peaked at #12 on the Billboard R&B Chart and the final single released from the album was the palpable party anthem, “The Overweight Lovers In The House.” The album would achieve gold status and set in motion the blueprint for the second album in 1989. His group’s next album would boast the same aforementioned producers, but this effort would ascend Myers into superstardom.
Big Tyme would be released in the summer of 1989 and it established Myers as a viable artist among mainstream audiences. The first single, “We Got Our Own Thang” peaked at #10 on the Billboard R&B Chart, #3 on the Billboard Rap Chart and #69 on the UK Singles Chart. The next single, “Somebody For Me” peaked at #8 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #1 on the Billboard Rap Chart. The final single, “Gyrlz, They Love Me” peaked at #12 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #4 on the Billboard Rap Chart. This album became Myers first platinum selling record and his talent became a hot commodity amongst his peers.
Around this same juncture, he would lose his close friend and group member Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon to a fatal accident. Myers would go on to be featured on a song entitled “Alright (Remix)” from Janet Jackson’s album, Rhythm Nation 1814 and on a song entitled “Jam” from Michael Jackson’s album, Dangerous. This made him the only hip-hop artist to ever be featured on both Jackson albums, which showcased his popularity and relevancy.
His third album, Peaceful Journey would be released in the summer of 1991 and it became another smash hit for his career. Building on his previous successes, Myers retained the production services of Teddy Riley, Eddie Ferrell, Marley Marl and the new inclusion of his cousin, Pete Rock. The debut single, “Now That We’ve Found Love” peaked at #5 on the Billboard R&B Chart, #4 on the Billboard Rap Chart and #2 on the UK Singles Chart. The next single, “Is It Good To You” peaked at #13 on the Billboard R&B Chart, #12 on the Billboard Rap Chart and #46 on the UK Singles Chart. The final single, “Don’t Curse” peaked at #8 on the Billboard Rap Chart. This success led to him penning the theme songs for the shows In Living Color, Living Single and later on MADtv.
His next album, Blue Funk would be released in the winter of 1993 and it didn’t achieve the same level of notoriety as his previous two albums, but went gold nonetheless. Only two songs were released as singles from the album. The debut single, “Truthful” peaked at #57 on the Billboard R&B Chart and the final single, “Who’s The Man?” peaked at #52 on the Billboard R&B Chart. The door of opportunity presented itself in the form of various acting roles on popular network sitcoms. Myers took full advantage by landing recurring roles on sitcoms such as A Different World, Roc and Living Single. Within the same year, he became Vice President of Uptown Records.
In 1994, Myers would release Nuttin’ But Love in the late spring and once again he achieved platinum status. This would become the biggest selling album in the group’s career. The album landed at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Albums Chart and #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. The debut single, “Black Coffee” peaked at #14 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #4 on the Billboard Rap Chart. The next single, “Nuttin’ But Love” peaked at #13 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #9 on the Billboard Rap Chart. The third single, “Got Me Waiting” peaked at #8 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #1 on the Billboard Rap Chart. The final single, “Sex Wit You” peaked at #44 on the Billboard Rap Chart.
For the next couple of years, Myers landed the title of President at Uptown Records along with focusing on his acting prowess. He secured a role in the urban cult classic, New Jersey Drive and on the off-Broadway play, Riff Raff, which was directed and written by Laurence Fishburne.
After a brief hiatus from the music scene, Myers returned with his first solo album, Waterbed Hev. This album would be released in the early spring of 1997 and it reached gold selling status. The first two singles, “Waterbed Hev” and “I’ll Do Anything” failed to chart, but the third single, “Big Daddy” became a hit. “Big Daddy” peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, #5 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #2 on the Billboard Rap Chart.
As the millennium approached, Myers released his second solo album, Heavy. It landed at #60 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart and #10 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart. He also found himself co-starring in popular films, The Cider House Rules and Life. Over the next decade, Myers became an extremely successful actor by starring in various movies and TV shows. His work could be seen in TV shows such as Boston Public, Bones, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and in movies such as Big Trouble, Step Up and Tower Heist. He went on to release two more albums, Vibes in 2008 and Love Opus in 2011.
The influence of Myers can be found in past and current Hip Hop artists such as Notorious B.I.G., Big Pun, Rick Ross, among many others. He helped to launch the careers of Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Soul 4 Real, and Monifah. One of the Godfathers of New Jack Swing and party Hip Hop, his tongue tied lyricism and kind-hearted soul left in an indelible imprint on the fabric of popular culture. He embodied professionalism and greatness not only as an artist, but as a human being. His voice will never be forgotten.
Heavy, we got nothing but love for you.