Mister Cee, Legendary Hip-Hop DJ, Dead At 57

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Calvin LeBrun, the DJ, record executive, and radio personality best known as Mister Cee, has died. Hip-hop media personalities including former MTV VJ Ed Lover and hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg confirmed Cee’s death. No cause of death has yet been reported. Cee was 57.

Mister Cee grew up in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and befriended Big Daddy Kane in high school. He became Kane’s DJ and featured on his 1988 debut album Long Live The Kane. Both artists were part of the Juice Crew, the legendary hip-hop collective centered in Queensbridge, founded by DJ Mr. Magic and including the likes of Marley Marl, MC Shan, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Roxanne Shante, and Kool G Rap among others.

While continuing to perform with Kane and contribute to his albums, Cee discovered the Notorious B.I.G. in the early ’90s, recognizing the brilliance in Biggie’s demo and began advocating for him even before The Source featured him in the Unsigned Hype column. Cee eventually served as associate executive producer on Biggie’s iconic 1994 debut album Ready To Die, and the following year, he released his classic mixtape The Best Of Biggie.

Mister Cee became a fixture of NYC club nights and eventually expanded into radio, deejaying on air for New York’s influential Hot 97, where he earned the nickname “The Finisher.” He became such a celebrity within the world on hip-hop that he got an endorsement deal with the beverage company Tropical Fantasy and developed his own soda flavor, “Island Punch Finisher.” In 2008, he also got his own radio station within Grand Theft Auto IV. On 2009’s “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune),” Jay-Z explained that he catering to the rugged traditions of “real” hip-hop by rapping, “This ain’t a number one record/ This is practically assault with a deadly weapon/ I made it just for Flex and Mister Cee, I want n****s to feel threatened.”

Cee became the center of controversy within the rap world in 2011 when he was arrested for soliciting sex from a transgender sex worker. He lied about his sexuality for a while, but in 2013, after a video of him negotiating the price of sex with a transgender sex worker emerged online, he attempted to resign from Hot 97, believing that it was no longer tenable for the station to employ him. The station accepted his resignation at first, but two nights later, Cee was back on the radio with his colleague Ebro Darden discussing his sexuality. By the next day, he was back on the air in his usual afternoon time slot. A 2014 GQ feature explored this aspect of Cee’s life.

Below, enjoy some of Mister Cee’s music.