Caribbean-American Heritage Month In Focus: Heavy D

    Dwight Myers, aka Heavy D aka The Overweight Lover, along with the Boyz – DJ Eddie F (Eddie Ferrell), Trouble T Roy (Troy Dixon) and G-Wiz (Glen Parrish) – were one of the first Hip Hop groups to put “Money Earnin'” Mount Vernon, NY,  on the map. 

    But Heavy was originally from Mandeville, Jamaica. He moved to the states with his family when he was a kid. But he never forgot his roots, even recording an entire album of reggae music, Vibes in 2008, which was nominated for a Grammy and featured Jamaican stars Barrington Levy and Sizzla.

    Barrington Levy & Heavy D – Love Me Like This

    Love me like this by Barrington Levy and Heavy D

    Heavy knew Trouble T-Roy, who Heavy described as the backbone of the group, since the third grade and he introduced him to Glen and Eddie F. They created a demo and plotted a way to get to Russell Simmons at Rush Management, who was behind all the hottest artists at the time from Whodini to LL Cool J, to Kurtis Blow and Run DMC. 

    They ended up meeting Andre Harrell, who was a V.P. at Rush, and gave him their demo. They didn’t know at the time that Harrell was starting his own label, Uptown Records. They ended up on a compilation album for Uptown and became the first artists signed to the label and played a significant role in getting the company off the ground.

    As an unlikely sex symbol and a deft dancer, there was no disputing Heavy’s lover-man status with his slick, colorful tailored suits and rapping and singing on Hip Hop love songs like “Black Coffee,” “Nuttin But Love,” “Big Daddy” “Gyrlz They Love Me,” “Is It Good to You” and “Somebody for Me.”  

    Heavy D & The Boyz – Somebody For Me

    Music video by Heavy D & The Boyz performing Somebody For Me. (C) 1989 Universal Records

    He rep’d for the fluffy, but not soft, fellas who know how to both demand respect and be vulnerable.

    His rap style replicated his lover-man persona, nearly singing many of his raps with samples from slow jammers like Luther Vandross (“Don’t You Know That” for “Got Me Waiting“) or tender lyrics on top of funk tracks (The Meters “Thinking” for “Gyrlz They Love Me”), classic R&B (Jean Knight’s Mr. Big Stuff for his own Mr. Big Stuff) or a fusion of New Jack Swing/Hip Hop and reggae (the Teddy Riley produced “We Got Our Own Thang”) R&B and reggae (“Now That We Found Love” a cover version of O’Jay’s song by Third World) and reggae (“Mood for Love”). 

    Heavy packed a whole lot of living in his 44 years. He was a rapper, actor, the Vice President of A&R and eventually the President of Uptown Records, where he signed the talented boy group Soul 4 Real and Hip Hop soul artist Monifah and was instrumental in the success of Mary J. Blige and Jodeci.

    He convinced Andre Harrell to hire Sean “Puffy” Combs, who was an intern at the time at Uptown. Several of Heavy D. & the Boyz’s albums went platinum, including Big Tyme, Peaceful Journey and Nuttin But Love. 

    Eddie F. created and Heavy D. sang on the theme song for the show, “In Living Color.” Heavy produced for Beanie Siegel, for Guns n Roses, Lenny Kravitz, JAY-Z, and for R&B singer Carl Thomas.

    Heavy D – Big Daddy

    Music video by Heavy D performing Big Daddy. (C) 1997 Geffen Records

    He collaborated with Michael Jackson on Jam, and with Janet Jackson on the single “It’s Alright.” He made history by being one of only a handful of people that the King of Pop reached out to collaborate.

    He also appeared on the track “Let’s Get It On” rapping alongside Tupac, Biggie, and Grand Puba, before either Tupac or Biggie were well known. But he wasn’t all work and no play. When his daughter Xea was born, he took eight years off from the music business to help raise her.  

    Heavy D. & The Boyz – We Got Our Own Thang

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    When Trouble T Roy died at the age of 22 in an accident where he lost his balance and fell off of a wall in 1990, the world was devastated. Pete Rock, who is Heavy’s cousin, and CL Smooth, created a tribute to called “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)“, which became an instant classic.

    Heavy was no stranger to death. He had lost a brother a year earlier. His parents, Clifford Myers and Eulalee Myers had five children. Their son, Troy, died at 26 and another son, Jerry, died at 37.

    Before Heavy died from pulmonary embolism in 2011 at age 44, he had been on mission to exercise and eat healthier. In two years, he lost 150 lbs. 

    His new svelte figure suited him, but he was always the cuddly Heavy D. to his fans and will forever be a beloved Hip-Hop star that we lost too soon.