Shakir Stewart, the head of Def Jam records, was found dead in the bathroom of his Atlanta home on Saturday of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. The 34 year-old music executive had taken over the top spot at Def Jam, formerly held by Jay-Z, in June.
Known as a tireless, resourceful worker committed to finding new talent and acts, Stewart first signed Beyonce to the Hitco Label in 2000. While some friends are expressing disbelief at his death, his fiancé said in a statement that he was facing some personal trials and was not himself in the past few weeks:
On Sunday (November 2), his fiancée, Michelle Rivers, released a joint statement with the rest of his family.
We would like to thank Shakir’s friends for the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received during this difficult time,” the statement reads. “It has helped us to cope with our overwhelming grief and sadness. It is difficult to express or explain in words what led to the tragic occurrence on Saturday. Over the past several weeks, Shakir’s behavior was inconsistent with the man we all know and love. As much as we all tried to help him, Shakir was in deep pain and largely suffering in silence. Please remember Shakir for who he was … a wonderful father, partner, son and friend.”
Stewart was 34 years old. Cobb County Police spokeswoman Cassie Reece was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, telling the paper that his body was found in the bathroom of his home around 4 p.m. Saturday. He was taken to the Kenne Hospital with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and later pronounced dead.
The Oakland, California, native was known in the music industry for his hard work and an ear for talent. He was recently instrumental in fattening Def Jam’s roster with Southern rap staples Rick Ross and Young Jeezy. Both MCs released albums that debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.
Def Jam released a statement Saturday night in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
People are commenting that it doesn’t really make sense that this guy would commit suicide. He was an incredibly successful and well known music executive at the top of his career. We don’t know his situation at all and depression doesn’t spare people with money. We’ll have to see if police find any signs of foul play. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at this sad time.