Don Newkirk—the esteemed Hip-Hop producer best known for his work with De La Soul, Prince Paul, 3rd Bass, and others—has died at the age of 56. The tragic news was confirmed on Friday (Nov. 25) by Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five via Facebook. The cause of death has not been revealed.
“It is with a heavy heart I announce the transitioning of my brother Don Newkirk,” the rapper 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 back in 1989 for their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, took to Instagram to pay their respects to their unofficial member.
“Ever since high school, we all knew Don Newkirk was undoubtedly a special kind,” the post reads. “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. Our condolences go out to the family and to you @djprincepaul.”
Newkirk also served as an announcer on “The Gas Face” for the acclaimed rap group, 3rd Bass. The Bronx native went on to release his 1989 debut album, Funk City on Def Jam‘s R&B subsidiary OBR. He later joined the Hip-Hop ensemble Brookzill! with longtime De La Soul producer Prince Paul, Digable Planets‘ Ladybug Mecca, and Rodrigo Brandão.
VIBE sends our deepest condolences to Newkirk’s loved ones during this time.