Atlanta police confirmed on Sunday that Def Jam Executive Vice President Shakir Stewart died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 34-year-old was found in a bathroom in his Atlanta-area home on Saturday and was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Stewart is credited with helping to put the Atlanta music scene on the map through his party promotions firm and the Noontime Entertainment production company that helped bring producer Jazze Pha to the front. He rose quickly during a four-year stint at Def Jam, capped off by his ascension to the top spot earlier this year, after Jay-Z’s departure from the label in December. Stewart was instrumental in signing such current Def Jam stars as Young Jeezy and Rick Ross.
One of Stewart’s long time friends, Christopher Hicks, said he last spoke to Stewart about a week ago. “Whatever happened over the past 24 hours is not a testament to who we all know,” Hicks told the Journal-Constitution on 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. … 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’s fiancÃ©e, Michelle Rivers, released a joint statement with his family on Sunday in which she said that “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.”