Chris Lighty (May 8, 1968 - August 30, 2012) is the founder of Violator Management, a record label, management, and marketing company. He was one of the most powerful figures in the music business.
Lighty has played an integral part in the success of rap superstars such as Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Foxy Brown, LL Cool J, the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, Missy Elliott and most recently Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and G-Unit.
Since 1989, his company has been stealthily creating strategic multi-million dollar opportunities for its artists in film, television, advertising, sports and finance with little media fanfare.
With help from partners Mona Scott and Todd Moscowitz, Lighty has built Violator Management & Records into an urban-music powerhouse selling more than 70 million albums worldwide, earning three Grammys and an Oscar for Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from the movie "Hustle & Flow," the first Hip-hop group to win an Academy Award for Best Song. They are also the first Hip-hop artists ever to perform at the Academy Awards ceremony.
He was asked by Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen (still two of his biggest influences and mentors) to join their fledging RUSH Management team and shortly afterward, he started the indie Violator Records label at Relativity with Latin hip-hop artists Fat Joe and Beatnuts.
After moving the company to Def Jam, he broke Waren's four-million selling REGULATE album wide-open, then inked Cru, Foxy Brown, The Firm's Cormega and Mysonne to the label and found time to executive produce for LL Cool J's double-platinum MR. SMITH album. Lighty sold off the Violator Records roster to Def Jam in 1999.
In 2000, following Def Jam's sale to Universal Music, Lighty struck out on his own embarking on a new chapter in his career at Jive Records where he has relaunched Violator Records and serves as Senior Vice President at Jive Records.
In June 2006, Violator's Mona Scott, sold Missy Elliot's life story to Universal Pictures.
Forbes magazine named him as one of the industry's most influential talent managers and the business mastermind that helped transform 50 Cent from multi-platinum artist to a $200 million dollar industry encompassing CD's, films, tours, video games, book deals, G-unit clothing and an unprecedented investment/endorsement deal with Glaceau's Vitamin Water.
Says Lighty, "it's the highest form of flattery when your peers at other entertainment companies feel that you have something to contribute to their efforts."
Lighty was raised in the Bronx and launched his career by hauling record crates for the legendary hip-hop deejay Red Alert.
Others may have dismissed the Bronx as a cauldron of urban blight but Lighty saw flourishing businesses.
"Street entrepreneurs had set hours," he explains. "They created sales and cultivated a viable product. They had to advertise, market and promote to make themselves distinguishable from the next man who was always ready to move in on a competitor's territory. They had to be provocative enough, and productive enough to find ways not only to create repeat customers but loyal ones too. And given the volatile nature of most the hood's enterprises, businessmen had to have the leadership skills necessary to run an organization that could easily run amok if left to its own devices."
On August 30, 2012, Lighty was found dead in his Bronx apartment. It is believed to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound.