Def Jam Records VP Shakir Stewart, who succeeded Jay-Z as the head of the record label, died in Atlanta on Saturday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Stewart had a tremendously successful career and appeared particularly enthusiastic about his recent promotion to Jay-Z's vacated position after having signed several of the label's most successful artists including Rick Ross and Young Jeezy as VP of A&R. Before working at Def Jam, he worked for Hitco publishing, where he was credited for signing Beyonce to a publishing deal and Arista, where he signed Ciara.

"My main thing is to keep supporting the artists that have cultural relevance, a message, a real fan base and that can touch the hearts of men and women," Stewart said in a recent interview when asked about his goal as head of the label. "I'm a fan of the music and artists and I'm just passionate about it so I'm just ready to go."

He was discovered in the bathroom of his Atlanta home on Saturday afternoon, and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. He was 34.

"L.A. Reid and all of us at Island Def Jam Music Group are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Shakir Stewart," Def Jam said in a statement. "Shakir was an amazing man, in every sense of the word. A truly incredible friend and father who was an inspiration to not only our artists and employees, but to his family and the many people who had the privilege of counting him as a friend. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time."

Departed Music Personalities

    Island Def Jam executive Shakir Stewart, who became head of the legendary rap label following Jay-Z's departure, killed himself on Nov. 1. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 34 years old.

    Rock and jazz keyboardist Merl Saunders, who recorded albums with music titans like The Grateful Dead and Miles Davis, died at the age of 74 on Oct. 24 after complications from a stroke.

    Christopher Felver, Corbis

    Soul songstress Dee Dee Warwick died on Oct. 18 after months of declining health. Warwick, the sister of soul legend Dionne, also achieved a great deal of success, both as a solo artist as well as with her sister.

    Getty Images

    Levi Stubbs, Oct. 17: The iconic lead singer, second from left, who gave voice to Four Tops classics like "Reach Out I'll Be There" and "Baby I Need Your Loving" died at 72 from complications of cancer and a stroke. Abdul Fakir, far left, is now the sole living member of the original quartet.


    Nick Reynolds, Oct. 1: The Kingston Trio led the folk music uprising in the late 1950s, paving the way for the Dylans and the Baezs of the world. Reynolds, right with Dave Guard and Bob Shane, had been in the hospital with acute respiratory disease before his family took him off life support. He was 75.


    Norman Whitfield, Sept. 16: The Motown tunesmith responsible for anthems like 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' 'Car Wash' and 'War' died shortly after awakening from a diabetes-related coma. He was 67.

    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    Richard Wright, Sept. 15: With Pink Floyd, he unleashed new sounds from his collection of synths and organs that gave the band its signature psychedelic sheen. Wright, who also wrote mammoth cuts like "Us and Them" for the band, died following a battle with cancer. He was 65.


    Jerry Reed, Sept. 2: He started off as a guitarist, eventually had a string of country hits and also made the jump to the big screen with successful turns in Burt Reynolds films like 'Smokey and the Bandit' and 'Gator.' Reed lost a battle to emphysema at 71.

    Doug McKenzie, Getty Images

    Steve Foley, Aug. 23: The bespeckled drummer from Minneapolis will always be known as the replacement Replacement for his brief tenure after Chris Mars left the beloved band in 1990. His death at 49 is being attributed to an accidental prescription drug overdose. He appeared in one video for the band, the visually quirky 'When It Began,' pictured.

    YouTube / Rhino Records

    LeRoi Moore, Aug. 19: As a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, Moore's saxaphone playing helped propel the band's sound to major success. He was 46.


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