Heds and Dreds: Remembering The Big Belly Gorgon, Heavy D

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November 9, 2011

Words by Jesse Serwer

Yesterday came the sad word that Dwight Errington Myersโ€”Heavy Dโ€”died suddenly at the young age of 44. The news stings on several levels. Coming up on hip-hop in New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s, his music was a part of everyday life. While he gained pop crossover status with songs like “Is it Good To You” and “Nuttin But Love” and cameos on Michael Jackson’s “Jam,” he simultaneously fed mixshows with underground classics like “Don’t Curse” and put us on to people like Pete Rock and Biggie. We’d also hoped to link with him for a feature on LargeUp shortly. In fact, I already intended to make him the subject of my next Heds and Dreds columnโ€”next weekโ€”before fate intervened to put this piece on the fast track.

Though raised in the hip-hop hotbed that is Mount Vernon, N.Y., Heavy D was born in Jamaica, and he repped his homeland throughout his careerโ€”most famously with his cover of Third World’s “Now That We Found Love.” With the exception of KRS-One and producer Salaam Remi, the Overweight Lover did more than anyone to infuse dancehall style into hip-hop’s DNA in the late ’80s and early ’90s, from his collaborations with Super Cat and Buju Banton to his patois-laced intros on songs like “Jam Session” (one of two, pre-Ready to Die tracks Heavy recorded with fellow Jamaican Biggie Smalls). His final album, 2008’s Vibes, saw him leave hip-hop entirely to fully envelop himself in reggae, earning him a Grammy nomination. Whether it was a pop-house record, some grimy hip-hop or a M.J. cameo, you could feel Jamaica everywhere in Heavy D’s music. And, for that, we give him nuttin’ but love. What follows is a quick rundown of some of the big belly gorgon’s biggest excursions into Caribbean sounds.