Chucky Thompson Soundtracked The '90s, And Brought His City For The Ride Chucky Thompson, one of the original Bad Boy "Hitmen" and producer for The Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige, died Monday, leaving behind a legacy that starts and ends in his home of Washington, D.C.

Chucky Thompson Soundtracked The '90s, And Brought His City For The Ride

Chucky Thompson Soundtracked The '90s, And Brought His City For The Ride

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Chucky Thompson, one of the original Bad Boy "Hitmen" and producer for The Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige, died Monday, leaving behind a legacy that starts and ends in his home of Washington, D.C.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Before he produced some of the biggest rap and R&B songs of the 1990s, Chucky Thompson made a name for himself in his hometown of Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHUCK BROWN & THE SOUL SEARCHERS SONG, "BUSTIN' LOOSE")

CHANG: Thompson cut his teeth playing conga drums with the late go-go pioneer Chuck Brown. He died on Monday.

KOKAYI: It's so crazy because I've known him for a long time. And most recently, we started, you know, collaborating on stuff.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That's the D.C. rapper Kokayi. He says Thompson was planning to return to go-go.

KOKAYI: He just reminds you of your cousin. You know what I mean? He's your cousin from somewhere. You met him at a cookout or something. If you never, ever met him before, he'd be like, oh, I think I know you. But you know him if you're from here.

SHAPIRO: Thompson played lots of instruments. On the interview series "My Life My Music," he said that gave him an edge in making hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCKY THOMPSON: To be honest, it started there - from me playing the drums to the bass to the guitar, the keyboards and then really understanding what a producer does, you know, which is basically directs all of those instruments I mentioned.

CHANG: In the early '90s, he offered to produce a song for Mary J. Blige for free. Blige and her label boss Diddy - known then as Puff Daddy - were so impressed that they had Thompson produce an entire album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARY JANE (ALL NIGHT LONG)")

MARY J BLIGE: (Singing) I don't want to fuss and fight. I just want to make it right. Ooh.

CHANG: Here's Kokayi again.

KOKAYI: It's wild because if you watch the Mary J. Blige documentary, the way he's talking to Mary, he has all the D.C. colloquialisms in there. He's calling - he's like, joe, young, blah, blah, blah, blah, you know? And he's talking to her. He's not changing. He's not putting on any airs. He D.C. to the bone.

SHAPIRO: Chucky Thompson became one of the Hitmen, the production crew for Diddy's Bad Boy Records. And one of his assignments was to provide a beat for The Notorious B.I.G. But rather than a gritty New York sound, he gave Biggie a smooth groove with an Isley Brothers sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIG POPPA")

PUFF DADDY: (Rapping) I love it when you call me big poppa.

THE NOTORIOUS BIG: (Rapping) Throw your hands in the air if you's a true player.

PUFF DADDY: (Rapping) I love it when you call me big poppa.

CHANG: "Big Poppa" was an enormous hit, and Thompson would have many more with artists like Faith Evans and Nas. But Thompson didn't chase after No. 1 singles. He was asked about that for the "Neo Elite" podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE NEO ELITE AUDIO EXPERIENCE")

THOMPSON: I just don't want nobody to hate the joint. You know what I mean?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

THOMPSON: So at the end of the day, I just try to make it where, you know, people say, that's OK. And it just winds up being, like, a million people says...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

THOMPSON: ...That's OK. You know what I mean?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Wow.

CHANG: Millions have enjoyed the songs made by Chucky Thompson. He was 53 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M GOIN' DOWN")

BLIGE: (Singing) Time on my hands since you been away, boy. I ain't got no plans.

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