U.S. rap label boss dies suddenly

Sun Nov 2, 2008 9:47am EST
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NEW YORK (Billboard) - The head of rap label Def Jam Recordings died suddenly on Saturday, the company said. Shakir Stewart, who was named executive VP of the iconic label in June, committed suicide, according to reports. But no other details were immediately available.

"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 that had the privilege of counting him as a friend," Def Jam said in a statement.

Stewart succeeded Jay-Z at the top of the Def Jam ladder, and also retained his duties as senior VP of A&R at sister company Island Def Jam. The Oakland, Calif., native signed such artists as Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and newcomer Karina Pasian.

Def Jam, also home to such artists as Method Man, Nas and Ne-Yo, is a unit of Universal Music Group, the world's biggest record company.