By SONIA MURRAY, DERRICK MAHONE
Source Link: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One of the music executives who helped make Atlanta the Motown of the South died this weekend of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Cobb County police said.

Shakir Stewart, the 34-year-old executive vice president of Def Jam Recordings, was found about 4 p.m. Saturday in the bathroom of his house on Lindsey Drive in Marietta, said police spokeswoman Cassie Reece. Reese said Stewart shot himself with a handgun but wouldn’t say who discovered him. Stewart was prounounced dead at Kennestone Hospital.

Stewart ran the day-to-day operations of Def Jam, the best-known hip-hop label in the country. He was named executive vice president about five months ago, succeeding rap superstar Jay-Z.

Christopher Hicks, a friend of 18 years and fellow music executive, last spoke with Stewart about a week ago.

“Whatever happened over the past 24 hours is not a testament to who we all know,” Hicks said Sunday. “He was a one-of-a-kind individual. If you looked on his Blackberry [stamp] it said ‘One of one.’

“I mean, Shakir is the kind of guy who would get dressed up for a party none of us were invited to,” Hicks continued. “He had no doubt he was getting in. He was a ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ kind of guy. Always.”

Stewart, a native of Oakland, Calif., came to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. It was there that he and friends Hicks, Ryan Glover, Henry “Noonie” Lee and others started throwing parties and concerts around the city as Ivory Coast Entertainment.

Stewart, Hicks, Glover and others would go on to develop the Atlanta-based Noontime — a songwriting and production company that launched careers for its founders as well as Jazze Pha, and Grammy-winners Johnta Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox.

The first significant solo success on Stewart’s professional resume, however, was signing a pre-superstar Beyoncé to Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s Atlanta-based publishing company, Hitco.

Stewart was also an A&R consultant at Reid’s now-closed Atlanta imprint, LaFace Records, and Arista Records, to which he signed local Grammy winner Ciara.

Since 2004 he had served as vice president and senior vice president of A&R for Def Jam, during which time he signed Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy and Miami hip-hop star Rick Ross. Stewart split his time between Atlanta and New York.

“Having Shakir on your team is a good thing,” Jeezy noted before the release of his recent No. 1 CD, “The Recession.”

And the week of the July release of his controversial “Untitled” CD, Atlanta rapper Nas said of Stewart: “He gave me some confidence dealing with all of this. He’s about growth. …And you can never catch him off his game. In the club, the office, wherever. He’s always seeing the big picture. Great supporter!”

Late Saturday night a statement was issued from Island Def Jam Music Group: “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.”