Very few rappers contributed to the soundtrack of my tween and teenage years more than Heavy D. After finding out about his passing, I began to reminisce about days when basement parties and teen nights at clubs were considered nightlife, where I expended boundless energy doing the wop, Cabbage Patch, Smurf and drop of science to “The Overweight Lover’s in the House” and “Mr. Big Stuff.” Heavy D & the Boyz did not provide tales from the hood like NWA; they did not provide social commentary like Public Enemy or KRS–One nor was Hev a lyrical assassin like Rakim, but he did carve a nice lane for himself in hip-hop with his flow, catchy dance tunes and gregarious personality. He was a pioneer whose music videos help to give hip-hop of the late 80s to mid 90s, what I consider to be the golden age, a distinct visual aesthetic. There was always high energy in a Heavy D & the Boyz video – plenty of dancing and Hev was in the thick of it, doing his thing, showing that big boys could rock hard as well. As the climate of the music scene changed, Heavy D retired from hip-hop – lending his industry expertise behind the scenes as an executive as well as acting in parts on television, film and Off-Broadway.
Strange where the twists and turns of life can lead you, never did I believe that I would conduct an interview with the man whose music I used to dance to in 501 jeans and flower print shirts. But there I was, in 2008 taking pictures and holding a conversation with Hev at Daddy’s House Recording Studio. He was putting the finishing touches on Vibes, his third solo and final studio album. It was also his first reggae album. At the time, I worked as an editor for a Caribbean magazine. We spent two hours together talking about music, family and Caribbean culture. He was the consummate professional – warm, extremely gracious and charming. I did not feel like a journalist meeting a celebrity with the purpose of retrieving a story nor did I feel like a fan going to meet a childhood idol, instead our time together was very organic. We had an awesome discourse; more like catching up with an old friend than a typical interview and photo shoot. And that is why when I heard that Heavy D passed away at age 44, I felt like I had lost a friend. He was not just a rapper or actor to me, but someone that I had shared a few laughs and stories with. A person that created a memory that I will carry for the rest of my life, and although it was brief, it is always those brief, little moments that seem so precious when you find out news like this.
In keeping with F.A.M.E NYC’s tradition, I would like to share with you FAMERS a few of my favorite Heavy D videos. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all his fans. He was a very sweet human being whose presence will surely be missed.