Why Heavy D. Matters

Why Heavy D. Matters

During the early 1990s, Heavy D. collaborated with everyone from Janet Jackson (“Alright”) and Michael Jackson (“Jam”) to LeVert (“Just Coolin’). In 1995, Heavy revealed that “Michael is just as regular as everyone else. We talked about normal guy stuff guys talk about. He’s real smart. People forget he’s the most incredible entertainer we’ve seen in our lifetime.” 

Returning to his musical roots, in 1992 Heavy also recorded the dancehall jam “Big and Ready” with dancehall stars Super Cat and Frankie Paul, which helped the roughneck genre's struggle to break into mainstream radio and video rotation. “I was born in Jamaica and dancehall is something I’ve always listened to,” Heavy told writer Dimitri Ehrlich in 1991. “Doing a Jamaican record is like going back home for me. This is something I grew up on. I heard patois every day, so it’s natural.” (Later on Heavy spoke with Complex music editor Rob Kenner about his 2008 reggae album Vibes, which went on to win a Grammy Award.)

 

In 1995, with his mentor Andre now running Motown Records, Heavy co-produced Soul for Real’s debut single, “Candy Rain,” which became a massive hit. Doubling as the VP of A&R for Uptown Records at the time, Heavy oversaw classics like Jodeci’s The Show, The After Party, The Hotel and Mary J. Blige’s My Life.

 

In 1995, with his mentor Andre now running Motown Records, Heavy co-produced Soul for Real’s debut single, “Candy Rain,” which became a massive hit. Doubling as the VP of A&R for Uptown Records at the time, Heavy oversaw classics like Jodeci’s The Show, The After Party, The Hotel and Mary J. Blige’s My Life.

In 1996 he was promoted to the post of President of Uptown Records, reporting directly to industry heavyweight Doug Morris. But Hev eventually resigned, frustrated by the amount of meetings and paperwork the job demanded, as opposed to focusing on more creative projects.

Heavy’s charisma and creative spirit would soon lead him to acting roles on stage and screen. While he appeared in episodes of popular Fox series like Roc and Living Single, it was his stint in 1996 off-Broadway play Riff-Raff, written and directed by Laurence Fishburne, that took his acting skills to another level. Heavy’s performance as a thief named Tony earned him a nomination for a New York City Drama Desk Award, one of the highest honors bestowed on a stage performer.

In 2001, actress Charlize Theron, who co-starred with Heavy in the 1999 film Cider House Rules, told a reporter, “Heavy is a very honest person and that comes through on screen. A lot of performers have huge egos that gets in the way of business, but Heavy is very real.” Indeed, it was that “realness” that came through in everything he did and will forever define him as an artist and as a man.

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