(Reuters) - Hip hop manager Chris Lighty, who in the past handled careers of performers such as Mariah Carey and Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, died on Thursday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head, media outlets reported.
Music publication Billboard said it had confirmed the death through an unnamed source at Lighty's Violator Records & Management, which he founded and where he was chief executive.
The New York Daily News reported that Lighty, 44, was found dead in his apartment in New York City's Bronx borough from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Representatives for Lighty could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, for whom Lighty worked early in his career at Simmons' Rush Management, released a statement on GlobalGrind.com calling the manager "a hip-hop hero and one of its greatest architects."
"(Lighty) is an amazing example of how a passionate kid from the street can go to the most even-keeled, smart, thoughtful manager in the business and a generous philanthropist. He was loved by everyone who knew him, including me," Simmons wrote.
Lighty gained prominence through handling artists such as Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot and Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs through his Violator company.
After Violator merged with Larry Mestel's Primary Wave Talent Management firm in September 2011, the company signed on to work with artists such as 50 Cent and Cee Lo Green on their branding and endorsements.
Billboard included Lighty on its Urban Power List earlier this year along with Mestel and Michael "Blue Williams" as part of the executive team of Primary Violator Management.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)