Known for his famous production techniques that helped Run DMC hone their sound, Larry Smith was a legend in the hip-hop community. Reports confirm he died on Thursday night at the age of 63.
The hip-hop community lost a legend this week.
Radio host Combat Jack was the first to publicly announce Larry Smith’s death, saying:
Just spoke to his family. RIP Larry Smith, the original King of Beats who passed away last night.
— Reggie Ossé (@Combat_Jack) December 19, 2014
While no one from Smith’s camp has confirmed the cause of his death, he had previously suffered from a stroke in 2007, which affected his ability to speak. As of yet, it is unclear whether this stroke played a role in his death.
One thing is for certain, Smith was a king among the hip-hip community while he was alive. He is best known as the producer who left his mark on Run DMC’s first two influential records Run-D.M.C. and Kings of Rock.
Smith started his career as a session musician when he met Kurtis Blow. He was featured on Kurtis Blow’s wildly successful “The Breaks.” This record had the first mainstream commercial success of any rap record. It was the first to be certified gold in the genre, thanks in part to Smith’s unique production style.
While he co-produced Run DMC with Russell Simmons, he moved on to his own lucrative career as the sole producer for Whodini. Smith was a pioneer in the field, mixing real instrumentation like guitars and live drums with classic hip-hop sampling. The records he worked on sound full and warm, with the atmosphere of a live performance. He never let sampling or machine-like sounds overwhelm records. Instead, he pushed for a more organic hip-hop, influencing countless artists along the way.
The people who knew him best described a man who was dedicated to his work. Run DMC’s Rev Run tweeted this morning:
Rip to the greatest hip hop producer of all times…. Larry Smith. Produced my biggest and most significant hits..
— Rev Run (@RevRunWisdom) December 19, 2014
Check out some of Larry Smith’s best-known work below: