Sean "Diddy" Combs, second from left, leaves the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel following the service for hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty, on Wednesday, in New York. Mourners in the packed chapel Wednesday included Sean "Diddy" Combs, Missy Elliott, Q-Tip, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, 50 Cent and Grandmaster Flash. Lighty, the 44-year-old hip-hop mogul, was found dead in his Bronx apartment last week with a gunshot wound to the head. (AP/Tina Fineberg)
Hip-hop royalty including LL Cool J and Sean "Diddy" Combs packed a standing-room-only funeral chapel Wednesday to pay their respects to music-industry mogul Chris Lighty.
Mourners also included Missy Elliott, Q-Tip, Russell Simmons, Busta Rymes, 50 Cent and Grandmaster Flash.
The 44-year-old Lighty was found dead in his New York apartment last week with a gunshot wound to the head. The medical examiner ruled it a suicide, but his family has asked for a second autopsy.
"Whatever the pressure was that made him take his life had to be tremendous pressure," Grandmaster Flash said outside the chapel. "I just wish that Chris would have reached out and said, 'Flash, I need some help, man.' ... He didn't reach out. It's really sad."
By the time the service started, the chapel had become as crowded as a hot nightspot, with security guards only letting people in if someone else left.
Lighty had been a part of the hip-hop scene for decades, working with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator. But he was in the midst of a divorce and had been having financial and personal troubles.
He was a player in the hip-hop game since he was a child disc jockey. He rose through the ranks at Rush Management — Simmons' first company — before founding Violator Management in the late 1990s.
He made it his mission to create multifaceted entertainers who could be marketed in an array of ways: a sneaker deal here, a soft drink partnership there, a movie role down the road.
"As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the Internet and trading it and iPod sales continue to rise, you can't rely on just the income that you would make off of being an artist," he said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press.
Survivors include his two children. He and his wife, Veronica, had been in the process of divorcing. The case was still listed as active, but electronic records show an agreement to end it was filed in June.
He was also having financial trouble. He owed more than $330,000 in state and federal taxes, according to legal filings. His tax problems were much steeper a year ago, but he cleared away millions of dollars in earlier Internal Revenue Service liens last October, after selling his Manhattan apartment for $5.6 million.