Monday, November 03, 2008

Def Jam's Vice Prez Dead...

Def Jam Record’s Vice-President, Shakir Stewart, died today from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  According to Def Jam, Stewart's body was found in Atlanta. Some sources say Stewart shot himself in his home. No further details of the suicide, have emerged.  “LA Reid and all of us at Island Def Jam Music Group are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Shakir Stewart,” Def Jam said in a statement released to VIBE today. “Shakir was an amazing man, in every sense of the word.  A truly incredible friend and father who was an inspiration to not only our artists and employees, but to his family and the many people who had the privilege of counting him as a friend. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time.”  On June 3, Stewart was promoted to VP of Def Jam, where he reported directly to his mentor, Island Def Jam’s chairman, Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Shakir, who was mainly seen dressed sharp as a tac, was based in New York and Los Angeles. Prior to his newest position, Stewart served as the Senior Vice President of A&R at Def Jam, where he signed acts ranging from Rick Ross, to Young Jeezy.  Stewart was always a hustler. An Oakland, California native, Stewart graduated from Morehouse College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing. He later began to work the promotions scene in Atlanta, while trying to figure out how to meet his idol, L.A. Reid.

In a twist of fate, he soon found himself working under Reid, as a young, hotshot, 20-something exec. In 1999, Stewart was hired as the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Reid’s publishing company, Hitco.  In outtakes from a candid interview with me from VIBE’s August issue, Stewart said the Hitco position was great, but, “To be honest with you Linda, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.” Yet, his track record proved otherwise. In 2000, Reid hired Stewart as an A&R consultant at LaFace Records, where he signed R&B starlet Ciara.  By 2004, both Reid and Stewart moved on to Def Jam, where Stewart admitted both men felt like the odd men out, and as some coined them, the “R&B guys,” Stewart said. But what strengthened Stewart to stay was his fascination with the iconic brand that took hip hop from the streets to the boardroom.  “I remember the first time I heard, ‘Rock The Bells’, ‘Paul Revere,’” Stewart reminisced. “Growing up, the first time I heard of the brand [Def Jam] was definitely LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. So coming in and getting an opportunity to work with that label, like LL Cool J? That’s an honor. I’m working on his project right now. It’s not even like a job for me.” 

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