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

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.”

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.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

Recent Posts

Justin Roiland of ‘Rick and Morty’ Has His Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed

Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland has domestic violence charges, stemming from an alleged 2020… Read More

March 23, 2023

Afroman is Being Sued By Ohio Law Enforcement After They Raided His House

Rapper Afroman is being sued by several members of Adams County Sheriff’s Office after they… Read More

March 23, 2023

Director Alain Gomis on His Illuminating New Thelonious Monk documentary, ‘Rewind & Play’

We spoke to director Alain Gomis about his stunning new Thelonious Monk documentary, Rewind &… Read More

March 23, 2023

Watch the Trailer for Upcoming Netflix Stand-Up ‘My Name Is Mo’Nique’

Oscar-winning actress and comedian Mo'Nique will star in an upcoming Netflix stand-up special, which premieres… Read More

March 23, 2023

Kendrick Lamar Will Produce An Upcoming Comedy Directed by ‘South Park’ Co-Creator Trey Parker

Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free will produce an upcoming live-action comedy with South Park co-creators… Read More

March 23, 2023

The Trailer for ‘Dear Mama’ Shows the Powerful Relationship Between 2Pac & Afeni Shakur

2Pac and Afeni Shakur-focused FX docuseries Dear Mama premieres on April 21. The five-part event… Read More

March 23, 2023