Carl “Chucky” Thompson, the producer, composer and member of the Bad Boy label’s stable of “Hitmen” responsible for smashes by artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige, has died at age 53.
No official cause of death has come from the family or reps, though AllHip-Hop reported that Thompson died from complications of COVID-19.
News of his death spread Monday after one of his production charges, Young Guru, confirmed Thompson’s death in an Instagram post, saying, “RIP to my mentor, my big brother, the man who changed my life forever.”
“It is with a very heavy heart that I can confirm the passing of Chucky Thompson,” said his longtime publicist, Tamar Juda. “To anyone in his orbit, you know how generous he was with his energy, creativity and love. Both the music industry, and the world has lost a titan.”
Nineties-era hip-hop and its blend of sweetly melodic R&B had no better friend than Thompson. Although the Washington, D.C. native began accruing credits in the music business with songwriting for soul singers Percy Mayfield and Yolanda Adams at the top of the 1990s, it wasn’t until he hooked up with Sean Combs — then Puff Daddy, now Diddy — on the mogul’s way out of the door from Uptown Records to begin his own label, Bad Boy, and production team, the Hitmen, that Thompson began to thrive.
“I followed his instructions on how he wanted success for his artist and his company,” said Thompson in praise of Diddy in a recent StudioDope interview. “I was able to use tools that I acquired being from D.C. and being a multi-instrumental musician. We were expanding hip-hop and R&B. A lot of NEW producers are using that formula today.”
No sooner than he hooked up with Diddy than Thompson became responsible for two of that era’s most seminal recordings, 1994’s “Ready to Die,” the debut album from the Notorious B.I.G., and Mary J. Blige’s “My Life.”
“Mary was one of the MAIN reasons I even signed with BBE,” said Thompson in that same StudioDope interview. “She picked my song out of a ton of tracks from new and previous producers. I was truly honored.”
Along with thick beats and a reliance on haunting melody, sampling vintage R&B and funk became a signature tool in his arsenal — a way to fashion a readymade hook — say, on Biggie’s “Big Poppa,” where Thompson used the Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets” as the track’s sonic bedrock and solid-gold vibe. When it came to “My Life’s” most dramatic cuts, such as “You Bring Me Joy,” Thompson was their co-composer behind the curtain. If Thompson didn’t actually begin the revolution of mixing R&B and rap together, he was certainly in its delivery room with sutures at the ready.
From there, Thompson continued his list of platinum-plated credits for the Hitmen and Bad Boy — Faith Evans’ “You Used To Love Me,” Usher’s “Think of You,” Nas’ “One Mic” and Total’s “No One Else” among them. Thompson was also behind 1995’s “One Sweet Day” from Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, as its producer and arranger, “On the 6” from Jennifer Lopez as one of its programmers, 1996’s “Home Again” album from New Edition, 1997’s “Life After Death” from the Notorious B.I.G, and Mase’s “Harlem World,” from that same year, as well as the LOX’s beloved “Money, Power & Respect.”
Into the 2000s, Thompson was behind the boards for several additional Faith Evans projects and Blige albums as composer on the likes of 2006’s “Be Without You” and 2005’s “The Breakthrough,” and as the late Biz Markie’s producer on 2003’s “Weekend Warrior.” Thompson has composing credits on 2016’s “Views” album from Drake, appeared in 2021’s “My Life” documentary about Blige, and. recently, had been hard at work on Diddy’s upcoming new “Off The Grid Vol. 1” album.