I don’t think a week can go by any more without another superstar or legend in rap music passing away. Calvin LeBrun b/k/a Mister Cee was only 57 years old when he passed away on Wednesday, April 10th, 2024. Word of his passing did not spread beyond his inner circle until 24 hours later, and as of the time of this writing (Thursday the 11th) the cause of death is not known. Let’s take a moment to talk about his life and times and the influence he had on hip hop music and culture.

Born August 17th, 1966 in the historic Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy do or die), Calvin was in the right place at the right time to be part of the birth and rise of hip hop as we know it today. Music was always a part of his life and he aspired to be like both the block party and the radio deejays that were famous in the five boroughs, and he would ultimately achieve both of those goals. Even though he was well trained by DJ Knight and the Knights of Hollywood, success did not immediately come Calvin’s way, and for a time after high school his vocation was delivering messages as a courier for various firms. It’s a good way to make a living but not a way to become a huge star.

Thankfully his friendship with Antonio Hardy b/k/a Big Daddy Kane would permanently change the course of his life. The two had known each other since high school and Calvin would ultimately go on to be his tag team partner musically as his deejay, heard on “Mister Cee’s Master Plan” and executing that master plan behind the scenes to further Kane’s career. Their success together elevated both to a new level of prominence, and as Kane continued to rock the mic, Calvin parlayed his fame into becoming a radio deejay for both Hot 97 and WBLS in NYC. In this role he met a young Christopher Wallace who we all known as the late great Biggie Smalls a/k/a Notorious B.I.G. It’s not an understatement to say if Mister Cee hadn’t produced his first demo tape he might never have been signed to a record deal.

Unfortunately his many contributions to the culture were in some respects overshadowed by a blatant and homophobic disrespect directed his way by fellow Hot 97 deejay Ebro Darden. He ultimately left the station over the situation and moved to WXBK. None of this can take away from the massive amount of acclaim and respect he has in the rap scene as an original member of both the Juice Crew and the Flip Squad, earning his props whether live on the air or live on the stage. He had a personal hand in shepherding many aspiring emcees to superstar status, and he broke records in New York that other people wouldn’t even touch until he made them hits on the air. Pour one out for Calvin LeBrun a/k/a Mister Cee today and pay your respects for all he did. Thank you Cee.