Don Newkirk, best known for his collaborations with De La Soul and 3rd Bass, has passed away. Rahiem of the Furious Five confirmed the news in a post on Facebook, Saturday. He was 56 years old.
“It is with a heavy heart I announce the transitioning of my brother Don Newkirk,” Rahiem wrote, before adding, “Fifty-six years young. Don Newkirk was among the first R&B artists signed to Def Jam records. My condolences go out to his family. S.I.P bro.”
Newkirk provided a series of voice-overs on De La Soul’s iconic 1989 album, 3 Feet High and Rising. He also appeared on 3rd Bass’ song, “The Gas Face.”
In October 1989, Newkirk released his first solo album, Funk City, through OBR/Columbia Records, a subsidiary of Def Jam Records. “I Desire” and “Sweat You” were two of the biggest singles from the project.
Newkirk reflected on his career during an interview with AllHipHop in 2021. He revealed he wasn’t aware of the extent of his impact on hip-hop until the advent of the internet.
“Maybe I would have had more success if I had stuck to emceeing, being the 3 Feet High and Rising came out and ‘Gas Face’ [by 3rd Bass] was about to come out,” he told the outlet. “And then I was pretty much in the Native Tongues camp but not really a Native Tongue, more so because I was singing than spitting. But I’m glad that it did go down the way it went down because it created this legacy that I’m only now realizing, has made an effect that I didn’t even know from back then because we didn’t have internet.”
Newkirk created a sophomore album in 1992 titled, Between Love & Lust, but it was shelved when Def Jam sold the imprint to which he had been signed.
Check out Rahiem’s Facebook announcement below.