The producer, also known as Mark Howard James, passed away on October 19, three days before his 63rd birthday. DJ Premier first announced his death, with representatives confirming the news of his passing to Rolling Stone.
No cause of death has been announced as of the time of writing.
James, who helped craft hits such as Queen Latifah’s ‘Wrath Of My Madness’, Jay-Z’s ‘Hard Knock Life’ and Eminem’s ‘Stan’, was born in New York City but established his career in New Jersey in the 1980s with the Flavor Unit, a crew whose luminaries included Queen Latifah and Chill Rob G. He would go on to produce for the crew’s various solo projects, and was heavily involved in the production of Latifah’s 1989 breakthrough record ‘All Hail The Queen’.
While famed for his production work, James also made a name for himself with his 1987 track ‘The 900 Number’. Later used as the basis for DJ Kool’s ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’ in 1996, the track was also named one of the fifty greatest hip-hop songs by Questlove in 2012.
Since the producer’s passing, tributes from around the music world have begun to pour in for the hip-hop icon. In a statement to Variety, Queen Latifah said, “It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved Mentor DJ Mark the 45 King!”
“He believed in me before anyone else. He touched every life he encountered. I’ve never met someone like him; he wanted everyone around him to win. His spirit was magic and will certainly live forever,” she continued.
Jay-Z also paid tribute to James in a statement to XXL Magazine, saying, “Thank you Mark. Your instrumentals, namely The 900 Number, were more memorable than our whole albums. You gave me a canvas to have a conversation with the whole world! You changed my life.“
“Even when the life is short, the art is long!!”
View more tributes to The 45 King below.
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) October 19, 2023
Rest easy 45 KING. One of the original architects of production / greatest of all time .
— Alchemist Type Beat (@Alchemist) October 19, 2023
Damnnn RIP to Mark The 45 King. An absolute monument in music.
Not only did he make classics like 900 Number, Hard Knock Life, Stan (and a bunch of Queen Latifah joints!), to me his creativity in picking unlikely samples embodied the whole (fun!) spirit of hip hop.
— Good Bunny (@atrak) October 19, 2023
The post Eminem, Queen Latifah producer The 45 King has died appeared first on NME.