Def Jam Executive Vice President Shakir Stewart Dead at 34

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Marietta, GA -- The urban music industry mourns the loss of one of its strongest behind-the scenes workers;

Shakir Stewart

, former Executive Vice President of

Def Jam Recordings

, was found dead at his house in Marietta, Georgia (an Atlanta suburb) Saturday afternoon, due to an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was only 34 years old.

A native of Oakland, Stewart came to Atlanta to study at Morehouse College. While still at Morehouse, Stewart, along with Christopher Hicks, Ryan Glover, and others, founded local promotion company

Ivory Coast Entertainment

, which hosted parties and concerts all around the city. Soon afterwards, the three started

Noontime Music

, which would launch the careers of songwriter Johnta Austin as well as producers

Jazze Pha

and

Bryan-Michael Cox

.

Eventually, Stewart teamed up with fellow executive L.A. Reid to be an A&R for two of Reid's business ventures; signing

Beyoncé

to a publishing deal for

Hitco

, as well as

Ciara

to the

Zomba/Sony BMG

-distributed

LaFace Records

. For Stewart, however, the best was yet to come.

In 2004, at the same time that Reid was named

Chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group

, Stewart was named Vice President of

A&R for Def Jam Recordings

. Under his tenure, he signed another future Atlanta music superstar, platinum-selling rapper

Young Jeezy

, along with Miami heavyweight

Rick Ross

. In recognition of his hard work into forming

Def Jam

's new corps, he was promoted to Vice President of

IDMG

and President of

Def Jam

, taking on the responsibilities previously held by Shawn "

Jay-Z

" Carter.

"My main thing is to keep supporting the artists that have cultural relevance, a message, a real fan base and that can touch the hearts of men and women," Stewart told another website concerning his mission as an record executive. "My commitment is to the artists of quality music and talent."

In his most recent duties, Stewart oversaw the release of

Nas

'

untitled ninth studio album

, as well as

Young Jeezy

's

The Recession

and

LL Cool J

's

Exit 13

. The week of the untitled album's release, Nas said this 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!" Before the release of

The Recession

, Jeezy summed it up more directly: "Having Shakir on your team is a good thing."

The

Island Def Jam Music Group

made the following statement shortly after Stewart's passing: "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."

Stewart leaves behind a five-year-old daughter.

Photo Credit : Island/Def Jam

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