Yesterday afternoon Grandmaster Flash tweeted, and Vibe quickly confirmed, the sad news that hip-hop legend Heavy D (real name Dwight Arrington Myers) had died at the age of 44. Vibe says he died of respiratory issues. As both a solo artist and the leader of Heavy D & the Boyz he released several platinum albums and an impressive catalogue of hit singles (see below). He also had a prolific acting career, and performed for the first time in 15 years at last month's BET Awards. His output from the late-80s to late-90s features some of the era's best dance tracks and romantic raps, as you'll see from this very selective list.
"Mr. Big Stuff" (1987): Seriously, how amazing is this Marley Marl-produced track? (No to mention its video!)
"Somebody for Me" (1989): He just wanted somebody to love him for him; rap was so innocent back then. (Also, notice that the video resembles an animated Piet Mondrian painting.)
"Now That We Found Love" (1991): Don't let the guy in the see-through poncho (or Heavy D's neon green number) distract you—a hard task, admittedly; this track features some incredibly quick and sharp rhymes.
"Is It Good To You" (1991): Couple things worth noting here. Firstly, Heavy D opens this serenade with the most romantic lines ever rapped, "I really can't wait, let's stay in the garage/oops, let me run as I get the whipped cream/can't have ice cream without whipped cream." Secondly, that guy on the couch with his girl never takes his Walkman headphones off!
"Jam" by Michael Jackson (1991): Don't be distracted by the Kris Kross cameo and Michael Jordan's terrible dancing, Heavy D's guest verse (starting at 3:27) is superb.
"Truthful" (1993): Features one of the earliest uses of the expression "I'm Swayze" to signify that the speaker is no longer in the place in which he just was (like a ghost).
"A Buncha Niggas" featuring Gang Starr, 3rd Eye, The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes & Rob-O (1993): Obligatory posse cut, and a great one at that. (Additionally, Heavy D plays the bouncer at the party in Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance" video.)
"Nuttin' But Love" (1994): Oh shit, it's Chris Tucker! It's also the best rap song about gold-diggers—sorry Kanye.
"Got Me Waiting" (1994): Heavy D starts off this anthem of delayed romance all stalkerish ("I know your name, yes, I do/because your girls told me/I know where you live, you want to bet/because your girls showed me") before getting hip to her games, "I got your cards/you're playing hard to get."
"Big Daddy" (1997): The video for Heavy D's biggest single sans the Boyz looks like it was shot at the New York, New York hotel in Las Vegas.
Bonus: Heavy D performing a medley of his hits at last month's BET Awards.
Bonus 2: Heavy D's Wikipedia page, moments after news of his death started spreading on Twitter.