Life is a bitch. Just a couple of days ago I put up a top five list celebrating a legendary deejay and producer Mark James, known professionally as the 45 King, and now the news has broken that James passed away today at 62 years old. I couldn’t think of worse timing to have made a post saluting him — it makes it look like I knew something was up when frankly I had absolutely no way of knowing. It really is a hard knock life.

James certainly had battles with his health over the years though. You might think it was all good given that he produced one of Jay-Z’s biggest singles of all time, but that came after 45 King had already battled his way back from a drug addiction that nearly derailed his career, and before he suffered a heart attack that made him quit smoking and change up his diet entirely. James was resilient in the face of adversity throughout his life and never let the challenges slow him down, and he continued his hustle through regular updates to his YouTube channel.

Looking at the date and time stamps though may indicate something was up given his last live stream was two years ago and last new video was October 24th of last year. He leaves behind an incredible legacy of hits though from rap to pop and R&B. In fact the first thing I thought of back in the day when Puff Daddy released “Been Around the World” was 45 King’s remix of “All Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield, a song that Diddy sampled and re-interpreted on the hook.

It was almost magical how he could with a deft touch lace one of the biggest hits of any artist’s career over and over again. I had absolutely no interest in Dido before he chopped up “Thank You” to create Eminem’s hit single “Stan,” but afterward I had a newfound respect for both of them. The cultural influence of this song can’t be understated as “stan” has since become slang for anyone with an unhealthy obsession for an artist/actor/famous person. Some people actually wear the term as a badge of pride for the lengths they are willing to go to defend their favorite from critics.

In a post to Instagram, DJ Premier credited 45 King with launching both his career and the legendary group Gang Starr when he linked up with Guru, all thanks to the B-side of an early Gang Starr single called “Bust a Move Boy.”

“R.I.P. DJ Mark The 45 King who passed this morning. An ICON. His 62nd Birthday was Monday. 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. Red Alert was playing ‘Bust A Move Boy’ cutting it up crazy and I heard Guru’s voice wondering who the fuck is Gang Starr? I immediately went and bought the 12inch single to discover the label Wild Pitch Records. From there my friend Carlos Garza in Houston, TX. told Stu Fine who owned Wild Pitch about me and I connected with them in 1988 when Guru was looking for a new DJ and a permanent Producer.” They found a great one indeed. Thank you 45 King, RIP Guru, and Rest In Power to Mark James. Our condolences to all of his family, friends and fans.