The spirit of Heavy D lives on in striking fashion in his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York thanks to a new sculpture honoring him.
Last Thursday (April 27), the late rapper’s family was joined by artist Eto Otitigbe and Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard outside the newly completed high-rise building at 42 Broad Street, located near the Cross County Expressway. The sculpture, named “Peaceful Journey” after one of his renowned album releases, was unveiled to the waiting crowd. Standing over 18 feet tall, the work by Otigbe is made from stainless and Cor-Ten steel and marble.
The Brooklyn-based Otigbe was selected from a group competition organized by ArtsWestchester to create the work. “I wanted to pay homage to the Mount Vernon community that had such an important place in hip-hop with this work of art,” he said in an interview about the work through the art organization’s Instagram page.
“My son loved the arts and this sculpture and this sculpture depicts the love that he has especially for the city of Mount Vernon,” said Eulahlee Myers, Heavy D’s mother, at the ceremony. Heavy D tragically passed away in 2011 from complications of pneumonia. It was later learned he also suffered a blood clot in his lung as well.
“Mount Vernon has a rich history of arts and culture. With this being the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop, nothing could be more appropriate than to honor this beautiful, beautiful sculpture of Heavy D,” said Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, acknowledging his ties to the Westchester enclave where he moved to as a child with his family at the unveiling. “Heavy D, for me, wasn’t just an artist. He was my classmate. He was my friend. He was my party partner.”
The 44-year-old, born Dwight Arrington Myers, was an iconic part of Hip-Hop’s “Golden Age,” parlaying his affable charm and skilled lyricism into a music and acting career that saw him break numerous barriers and paving the way for other artists from the area including Diddy and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. “He was the rapper your mother liked,” said Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival founder Wes Jackson.