Hip-Hop Producer & De La Soul Collaborator Don Newkirk Has Died

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
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Hip-hop producer and musician Don Newkirk, best known for his collaborations with De La Soul and 3rd Bass, has died at 56-years-old.

Hip-hop enthusiasts are mourning the loss of legendary producer and musician Don Newkirk. On Friday (November 25), Raheim of The Furious Five confirmed news of Newkirk’s death in a Facebook post, although his cause of death hasn’t been revealed.

“It is with a heavy heart I announce the transitioning of my brother Don Newkirk,” Rahiem wrote. “Fifty-six years young. Don Newkirk was among the first R&B artists signed to Def Jam records. My condolences go out to his family. S.I.P bro.”

De La Soul, who Newkirk worked with as a voiceover artist on the group’s 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising, also went to Instagram to pay tribute to their former collaborator.

“Ever since high school, we all knew Don Newkirk was undoubtedly a special kind,” read the group’s post. “Fearless in expression and just a positive, talented vessel destined for success. His voice was the final cherry on top that closed our album 3ft High and Rising. Thank you Don, may you rest peacefully fam.”

 

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Newkirk was also heard as an announcer on “The Gas Face” by rap group 3rd Bass. Following his work on 3 Feet High and Rising, Newkirk released his first album Funk City on Def Jam R&B subsidiary OBR. In his later years, Newkirk was part of hip-hop ensemble Brookzill! with longtime De La Soul producer Prince Paul, Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets and Rodrigo Brandão.

Funk City was like in a mode of me experimenting, learning instrumentation and learning how to use my voice in a different way other than just rapping,” Newkirk told AllHipHop about Funk City last year. “Because I was never a singer. I was always an MC. But I just felt like I could express what I was trying to save better with melody back then. So it came out more so as Funk City, which I think is dope because it gave people a whole different element of me.

Read tributes to Newkirk below.

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