“The Violator Album” turns 20 years old today. Violator Records were somewhere in between a record label and a management company. Violator was able to assemble its impressive roster of artists to put this album together. They had Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, Big Pun, Noreaga, and Mobb Deep. The album was set off with Q Tips long-awaited debut as a solo artist. His single “Vivrant Thing” was a success, charting the Billboard 100 at number 26, making it Q-Tip’s highest-rated single to date. The album had an artist like Ja Rule, The Beatnuts and the Hot Boys who all released albums that year and they were also featured on the project.
“Violator the Album” was a compilation album, released on August 10, 1999, by Def Jam Records. It was the first release through Violator Records, a spin-off of Mona Scott & Chris Lighty’s Violator Management company. Several then-Violator Management clients and associates appear on the album. The following artists and producers were signed to Violator Management, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Charles Hamilton, Diddy, N.O.R.E., Gorilla Zoe, Papoose, Q-Tip, Missy Elliot, Ja Rule, Red Alert, and LL Cool J just to name a few.
Darrel “Chris” Lighty co-founded Violator Records, a record label, management, and marketing company, which represented hip hop. The New York Times was quoted saying Chris was “one of the most powerful figures in the hip-hop business.”
Lighty began working in the music industry by carrying crates for DJ Red Alert. He later was hired by Russel Simmons and RUSH Management before Lighty founded a management company in the early 1990s called Violator. Violator was responsible for helping LL Cool J land his first Gap commercial in 1997. Lighty developed endorsements deals for Mountain Dew with Busta Rhymes, Sprite with A Tribe Called Quest, and AT&T with Diggy Simmons.
Lighty worked for Def Jam, Loud and Jive. He was the chief executive of the Brand Asset Group. In 2004, Lighty brokered the largest brand endorsement deal in hip hop to date. Lighty put together what turned out to be one of the most lucrative deals in hip hop history: 50 Cent’s Vitamin Water Deal. Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion for Vitamin Water’s company Glaceau three years later, 50 Cent received $100 million, and Lighty received an undisclosed sum in 2011. The Violator Album features production from the likes of Swizz Beatz, Havoc, Dj Scratch, The Beatnuts, Diamond D, and Q-Tip. The album featured some of the most popular artists at the time. Violator proved to be a success, making it to #8 on the Billboard top 200 and #1 on the Hip Hop and R&B albums, and produced one sequel, Violator The Album 2.0 in 2001. Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing”, the first solo single from the former member of A Tribe Called Quest, was the album’s first single and major pop success. LL Cool J followed up with “Say What”, it was the album’s second single. The album was certified gold on September 29, 1999.
Violator was a management company, record label, marketing group, and multi-media entertainment conglomerate founded and operated by Chris Lighty until his death on August 30, 2012, it was ruled a suicide but his wife had an investigation into his death and even artist like 50 Cent put up his own money to have Chris Lighty’s death investigated.
Violator went on to specialize in managing the careers of the major Hip Hop and R&B performers and also became a successful record label. But in the summer of 99, they managed to produce one of the greatest compilation albums of its time. The talent and star power they were able to put together not only launched the careers of the artist but also launched Violator Records. Salute to the late great Chris Lighty and all The Violators for another classic album.