One could argue Heavy D. was of middling importance in the history of rap. Not the greatest (but still pretty good) lyricist. Never really connected with any innovative style. In no way edgy. Cuddly and friendly on purpose.
You could argue that, but you’d be wrong. In concordance with his girth he had outsized impact. He and The Boyz cranked out a decent sized body of work, and a ton of appearances. Three platinum albums are no joke. Heavy D. was always good for a quality guest spot on an up and comer’s track. The theme song for In Living Color helped put real hip-hop on prime time TV. His rap for Janet Jackson’s Alright added a little street to one of her biggest hits, along with spicing up a great video. He helped expand the boundaries of hip-hop by teaming up with Teddy Riley and blending rap into the broadly accepted New Jack Swing style. This was a precursor to today’s hip-hop infused (dominated?) top of the pops.
Godspeed, kind sir.
On a personal note, Heavy D. was exactly 2 days older than me. That’s it. As Morpheus says Death can come for us at any time, in any place. Granted I’m due for a mid-life crisis, but it makes one stop, evaluate, and reconsider the arc of one’s life.