Before Biggie Smalls, before Rick Ross, there was Heavy D. A rapper who reveled- even celebrated- in having a little bit of heft in the gut.

Hip-hop has always been about bravado. But here was a dude in 1987, straight from Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon, who made the oversized rapper less of a gimmick (like the Fat Boys were) and more of an artist that was meant to be taken seriously. Like Biggie and later Big Pun, he wasn’t running from being larger than life. Why? Because he could rhyme in just about any fashion imaginable. Sure, he had that hustle about him that we all love about rappers. But he was funny: Who didn’t shake their head at “The Overweight Lover’s in the House”? He was conscious: his line in 1989’s “Self Destruction” is classic. He spit, in part:

A-yo, here’s the situation: idi-o-dicy

Nonsense, violence, not a good policy

Therefore, we must ignore, fightin’ and fussin’

Heavy’s at the door so there’ll be no bum-rushing...

He was romantic. He was inspirational. And he was a big-boy playboy who liked to dance. You had to take his game seriously because he was really good at what he did: I still remember trying to rock the moves from the 1988 “We Got Our Own Thang” video. That boy could move!

Dwight Arrington Myers, a.k.a Heavy D, died on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles. The LA Times reported Wednesday morning that he may have died of complications related to pneumonia. And even though it’s been a minute since he’s dominated the hip-hop game, the entertainment world and its fans bowed a head, sent a tweet, posted a Facebook remembrance. I know I did. He was one of the young, hungry rappers who came along at the right time in the late 1980s who helped define a piece of the evolving New York hip-hop sound, partly by adding some R&B tilt to his game. It was a crowded field back then, with Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane and others, but Mr. Big Stuff wasn’t one to be denied. So, as Washington radio stations start their Heavy D remembrances today, let’s wish the Overweight Lover a Peaceful Journey.

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