"L.A. Reid and all of us at Island Def Jam Music Group are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Shakir Stewart," read a statement sent from the label today. "Shakir was an amazing man in every sense of the word. A truly incredible friend and father who was an inspiration to not only our artists and employees, but to his family and the many people that had the privilege of counting him as a friend. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time."
Stewart succeeded Jay-Z at the top of the Def Jam ladder in June and also retained his duties as senior VP of A&R at Island Def Jam. The Oakland, Calif., native signed such artists as Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and newcomer Karina Pasian.
Stewart cut his teeth as a music executive at Hitco Music Publishing, where he was creative director and later senior VP of creative/GM and signed Beyonce Knowles.
Even before he gained a rep for promoting rap concerts during his Morehouse College days, Stewart was "the guy who was the head of passing out fliers at seven clubs a night, seven days a week in 20-degree weather," he told Billboard this summer.
Stewart said at the time it was his goal to help develop "new, young executives ... The hot executive who's 21, 22 years old and has a serious passion for music and the desire to work 27 hours a day. That's where I was at that time in my life. And that's who I'm looking to mentor. I don't see many people like that. Instead, I see a lot of kids who want to live the lifestyle but don't want to put in the work and do what it takes.