Eminem and Jay-Z Collaborator DJ Mark the 45 King Dead at 62

On Thursday (October 19), Mark Howard James, better known as DJ Mark the 45 King, died at the age of 62. Announced by fellow hip-hop producer DJ Premier via Instagram, James’ death came just three days after his birthday.

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“R.I.P. DJ Mark The 45 King who passed this morning. An ICON,” Premier wrote in a post Thursday.
His 62nd Birthday was Monday.”

Throughout his career, James was able to produce hits like Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First” (1989), Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” (1998), and Eminem’s “Stan” (2000). A native of the Bronx, New York, he was a fundamental member of Flavor Unit, a group of rappers and DJs in the New York/New Jersey area that included Latifah.

When writing about how James impacted his life, DJ Premier noted how the late producer helped to introduce him to some of his favorite rap music.

“I never heard of Gang Starr until I heard DJ Red Alert play their 2nd single Produced by Mark on 98.7 Kiss in NYC while shopping my demos looking to get a record deal,” Premier wrote.

Currently, the cause of James’ death is unknown, but Premier did mention that he was able to get on a FaceTime call with James while he was in the hospital earlier this week to give him one final “salute.”

“Mark is responsible for so many classics and was a member of the Iconic Crew FLAVOR UNIT (Queen Latifah, Latee, Chill Rob G., Lakim Shabazz, Double J, Lord Alibaski, DJ Cee Justice, Apache, Naughty By Nature, Freddie Foxxx, Markey Fresh, Rowdy Rahz, Storm P, Shakim and so many more members beyond whom I’ve mentioned please pardon me if I didn’t post your name),” Premier added. “His sound was unlike any other from his heavy drums and his horns were so distinct on every production.”

Along with Premier, James received condolences from many others across the hip-hop industry, such as fellow instrumentalist Young Guru and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, the co-founder of Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records.

“This man was the first producer that I followed and would buy an album just because his name was on it,” Guru wrote on Instagram. “He was monumental as a producer. Flavor Unit and NewJersey HipHop would not be the same without him.”

In 2016, James was a guest on Mass Appeal’s Rhythm Roulette YouTube show, where he broke down his approach to hip-hop production. Check out the episode below.

DJ Mark / YouTube

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