Photo credits: Jaicee Calubaquib/Suigen | Arista Records
One of the most prolific providers of sonic backdrops in the worlds of classic hip-hop and R&B has passed away, according to Revolt TV.
Record producer Chucky Thompson (pictured), died “tragically” on Monday (August 9), Revolt reports. However, the media outlet had not reported the official cause of Thompson’s untimely death as of Tuesday afternoon (August 10). The sought-after producer and music composer was 53-years-old at the time of his passing.
Thompson’s ascension to black music royalty was propelled by Sean “Diddy” Combs, Revolt’s co-founder and co-owner. He founded Bad Boy Records in 1993. Combs (also known as Puff Daddy) launched Bad Boy after leaving Uptown Records, a formerly major R&B imprint, which was founded in 1986 by the late Andre Harrell.
Harrell died mysteriously at the age of 59 on May 7, 2020. According to his ex-wife Wendy Credle, he suffered from poor heart health prior to his death, the New York Times reported.
Combs was formerly an understudy of Harrell’s during his younger years at Uptown – a place where he ascended from being an intern to becoming Harrell’s right-hand man. At Uptown, the then 20-something Combs had a musical ear. He worked closely with the producers Harrell designated to craft R&B hits when he lacked time to do it himself.
A young and ambitious Thompson (born Carl E. Thompson) was one of the hired writer/production guns, which Uptown knew of back then. His early (presumably uncredited) contributions helped create the label’s legendary R&B sound, which was solidly signature.
Thompson and others created the timeless soundtrack of a truly golden era in R&B, which is still loved today.
When Combs started Bad Boy, assembling an in-house track production squad (called “The Hitmen”) was one of his first orders of business. There were over a dozen original members of the “Hitmen” outfit, which were the foundation of Bady Boy’s earliest string of mega-hits.
Along with Combs himself, Thompson engineered the label’s hip-hop and R&B success with other super producers – such as Stevie J, Easy Mo Bee, Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Nashiem Myrick, and a whole host of others. Over the decades, about 30 members in all repped Combs’ legendary sound squad.
However, Thompson’s first official production credit for a classic R&B song was earned at LaFace Records – another R&B musical powerhouse, which was founded by the one and only Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and soul smith Antonio “LA” Reid, Edmonds’ former well-known partner.
Thompson produced the August 1994 song “Think of You” by then 16-year-old R&B phenom Usher Raymond. This was the second single released for Raymond’s self-titled debut album, which debuted at #7 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
From 1994 until his death, Thompson crafted nearly 60 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum hits over the course of his 30-plus year career in music. He has produced RIAA-certified bangers for a long list of superstars, including Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Busta Rhymes, Nas, and many others.
In a tidal wave of social media posts made after his death, Thompson was mourned by a number of his peers in the music industry.
“I’ve been in shock most of the day. Chucky Thompson was not just someone that I made Mary J Blige’s My Life with and a part of the legendary Hitmen, he was also one of the greatest humans that I’ve ever met,” Combs wrote Monday on Instagram.
“Damn! I just spoke to this man last month! We were discussing our plans to work together again,” Blige wrote.
“Chucky and I was and will always be a musical match made in heaven. He knew everything I was feeling personally and when we worked on the My Life and Mary albums. He was an angel sent to help me weather my storm. Now my brother and my friend returned to where all angels and beautiful people like him come from,” the singer continued.
“RIP to one of the best who’s ever done it. This is soooo sad. Too many people leaving too soon,” she added, according to Revolt.
The Black Then editorial staff sends its sincerest condolences to Thompson’s family, friends, and fans who are both inside and outside the music industry. He will surely be missed.