When I first heard the news of Heavy D’s passing it was met with that feeling that I can best describe as huh? Huh as in: This can’t be real? My immediate reaction was to think about the first time I heard Heavy’s music. I could almost mark it with a calendar. It happened to be around this time of year 25 years ago. This was long before the days of the ‘net when music was instant to everyone worldwide with a mouse click. This was when music was still somewhat regional and records would hit major markets first and then work their way to smaller markets.

I happened to be away from home and as was my custom at the time, I would always take my boombox with me whenever I went out of town to record the local station wherever I was. This time I was at my grandma’s house in Charlotte, NC and it seemed like every 1/2 hr. or so the station was rockin’ this joint by Heavy D. and the Boyz. I kept saying to myself who are these dudes and it may have been the first time that I thought about the use of a sample so prominently. I was very familiar with “Mr. Big Stuff” and what really caught my ear was the drum roll which was one of the core rhythms from 80’s Go-Go which was my beloved music at the time.

I had not given it a thought in a longtime to how much Heavy’s music was a part of the soundtrack of those formative years for me but that sound, the positive energy, the dancing, the progressive production, the humor, it was an incredible influence on me and my circle of friends. Late high school, the college years, the young adult years… his music was ever present in the playlist. The lyrics and the feeling of the music just always sent such positive vibrations into the world.

Hard to express or to explain unless you experienced it but it’s just a very different feeling to have gone to the party and danced to the music of artists like Heavy D. and that whole movement of artists between 86-93/94 for me. This is purely personal but in some ways as new styles and voices began to gain favor it just didn’t feel the same. Heavy D. made it cool for a big man to dance, he was comfortable with himself on record and on screen that was contagious. Fashion forward, lyrically progressive, funny, in many ways a stark contrast to what the Emcee has become in this uber corporate era. Heavy D’s musical legacy reminds us of a time when you didn’t have to be hard to get respect. A time where lush melodic lines and harmonies could combine with hard hitting beats that would make you move to the floor. It seemed like everytime there was a new album you could hear where the sound had developed. Heavy D. and the Boyz truly had their own thing and we fans are eternally grateful for all the wonderful memories and special times your music, Heavy D., truly represents.

From the entire GFM Family I would like to extend the most heartfelt condolences during this most difficult time. Rest In Peace….

Dwight Arrington Myers May 24, 1967 – November 8, 2011

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.