Producer Larry Smith Dead at 63
The hip-hop world was hit with some very disheartening news this morning with the death producer Larry Smith, who passed away Thursday (Dec.18).
Combat Jack, host of 'The Combat Jack Show,' revealed the news of Smith's passing on Twitter. "Just spoke to his family. RIP Larry Smith, the original King of Beats who passed away last night," he wrote.
While official details on the cause of death are currently unavailable, at the time of his death, Smith was recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2007, leaving him partially paralyzed and unable to speak.
Born in 1951 in St. Albans, Queens, Smith attended Andrew Jackson High School while honing his musical talents in his spare time. Teaching himself how to play bass by listening to James Brown records, he would eventually perform with other musicians, hitting the road during the '70s to tour with Jerry Washington, among others.
He found his way into producing hip-hop through a mutual connection to then-emerging rapper Kurtis Blow. Smith helped concoct Blow's early classic, 'Christmas Rapping.' Taking off from there, he would partner with a young Russell Simmons and help mold Run-D.M.C. into musical icons, lending his talents to 'Sucker MC's, 'Rock Box' and a bevy of other timeless rap tunes.
Larry Smith is also one of the pioneers of mixing other genre's with rap, with tock-tinged records such as 'Rock Box' helping rap cross over and reach other demographics. He is also credited as one of the first rap producers to utilize sounds and music from overseas, particularly the U.K., where Smith spent part of 1984, during the recording of Whodini's 'Escape' album.
Eventually deciding to split ways with Russell Simmons for personal reasons, Smith signed a deal with Jive Records, doing work on projects such as the '80s flick, 'Rappin'' before fading away from the industry by the early '90s.
In his heyday, Smith was an original super producer and the architect of some of rap's greatest early hits, setting the foundation of the genre's sonic template and helping the sound of hip-hop evolve.
Several members of the hip-hop community have shared their reactions to his untimely passing. Check out what Q-Tip, Rev Run, Chuck D and more have to say about their peer.
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