Hip-hop executive Shakir Stewart was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head this weekend.
I did not know this guy, Stewart. He finished Morehouse the same year I graduated from high school, and we never met in any other wise. I remember hearing that a Morehouse guy replaced Jay-Z as president of Def Jam a few months back–it was him. For a driven and connected man like that to kill himself, he must have been facing some serious burdens. “He had it all” as they like to say.
He was interviewed by Billboard this summer. He talked about when he was first starting out. Back then, he was “the guy who was the head of passing out fliers at seven clubs a night, seven days a week in 20-degree weather.” His goal was to help develop “new, young executives … The hot executive who’s 21, 22 years old and has a serious passion for music and the desire to work 27 hours a day. That’s where I was at that time in my life. And that’s who I’m looking to mentor. I don’t see many people like that. Instead, I see a lot of kids who want to live the lifestyle but don’t want to put in the work and do what it takes.”
Success for him was not about being flashy, it was about working hard, doing things that others can’t or won’t do. Let that inspire you.
Suicide is always a tragedy, but for me, his passion lives on.