DJ Mister Cee, The DJ Who Helped Discover Notorious B.I.G. Dies At 57 Years Old 

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Flickr/Jose Miranda

DJ Mister Cee, who is credited with discovering rappers Big Daddy Kane and The Notorious B.I.G., passed away on Wednesday (April 10). His family confirmed the news, but a cause of death wasn’t immediately available. Many in the hip-hop community took to social media to honor one of the world’s most talented DJs. 

Who Was DJ Mister Cee? 

Born Calvin LeBrun, DJ Mister Cee was a DJ, record executive, producer, radio personality, and broadcaster who has played an integral role in the rap community for the past 40 years – most prominently in Brooklyn, New York City.

Source: X/DJ Jazzy Jeff

He reportedly learned to DJ at a young age from a crew called DJ Knight and the Knights of Hollywood, according to Variety. Later in his life, he was a member of The Flip Squad (a group of NYC-based DJs) and Juice Crew (a group of NYC-based artists). 

Official DJ for Big Daddy Kane

Mister Cee became friends with Big Daddy Kane (born Antonio Hardy) in high school, but it wasn’t until the late-1980s that he started deejaying for the NYC-based rapper. Prior to that, Mister Cee worked for several messenger companies, including Airborne Express. 

Source: Flickr/Rick Kern

In 1988, Mister Cee appeared on Big Daddy Kane’s debut album, Long Live the Kane – the track was called ‘Mister Cee’s Master Plan.’ The two remained close friends throughout their careers, and were both members of the Queens-based Juice Crew. 

Discovered The Notorious B.I.G.

In the 1990s, Mister Cee rose to stardom as he made a name for himself as one of New York City’s hottest DJs with HOT 97. During this time, he met an aspiring artist known as The Notorious B.I.G. – who he helped bring into the spotlight.  

Source: Wikimedia Commons/InSapphoWeTrust

“The first time I met him was when his DJ 50 Grand, rest in peace, brought Big to my house,” Mister Cee said in an interview. “The plan was we were going to redo the basement demo that he and 50 Grand put together.”

Mister Cee Describes Their First Track Together

Mister Cee described Biggie Smalls as a ‘very shy’ individual who liked when people did what they said they were going to do. During their first meeting together, Biggie picked out a beat that he liked and started spitting on it. That was the beginning of their partnership.

Source: Patrick Daxenbichler from Getty Images via Canva

“If you listen to the freestyle, at the end of it, you’ll hear a fire truck going by. We weren’t in a studio, we were at my house. I did it with two turntables, just cutting the record back and forth. We had a little cheesy mic that was better than the mic 50 Grand had at his house,” he said.

Associate Executive Producer Of ‘Ready To Die’

In 1994, several years after their first encounter, Mister Cee served as the associate executive producer for The Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut, Ready To Die – the album that included hit songs “Juicy”, “Big Poppa”, and “One More Chance”.

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Mister Cee also played a key role in facilitating the 1993 deal that saw Biggie sign with Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Bad Boy Records. Within one year, everyone in New York City and, eventually, the US, knew who Biggie Smalls was. 

Helped Spur The Careers Of Other Major Artists

While he’ll forever be remembered for his impact on Big Daddy Kane and The Notorious B.I.G., Mister Cee helped pave the way for a lot of artists through his radio gig – where he was always looking for new talent in the streets of New York City. 

Source: Flickr/Kim Erlandsen

He helped influence the careers of Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and many more – he was even the first DJ to play Fetty Wap’s hit song ‘Trap Queen.’ He didn’t care who you were or what you’d been through – if you could rap, he was going to promote it.

Host Of HOT 97’s ‘Throwback at Noon’

Mister Cee made a name for himself with HOT 97 – a commercial radio station in New York City – and its sister station, WBLS. He started working with the station in the early 1990s and was the host of Throwback at Noon and Friday Night Live. 

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He continued working for HOT 97 for 21 years, but eventually left the station in 2014. He continued his career as a DJ for 94.7 The Block and Rock The Bells radio on SiriusXM. 

HOT 97 and WBLS Release Statement

In a joint statement, HOT 97 and WBLS honored the life and legacy of one of NYC’s greatest DJs of all time. They described him as ‘a pillar of our stations’ who brought joy to ‘countless listeners’ through his two legendary shows. 

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“Mr. Cee’s influence stretched far beyond the airwaves, shaping the very fabric of NYC’s DJ culture. Our hearts are heavy as we send our love and condolences to his family and the fans whose lives he touched through his music,” they wrote. “Rest easy, Mr. Cee. Your legacy will live forever.”

50 Cent Posts Tribute On Instagram

In an Instagram post, 50 Cent paid tribute to Mister Cee by posting a photo of the Brooklyn Nets logo. However, the word ‘Nets’ was replaced with ‘Finisher’ – a nod to the late DJ’s monicker, ‘The Finisher.’ 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/TechCrunch

“R.I.P to the legend MR. Cee God bless him, to all his family and friends I send my condolences,” 50 Cent (born Curtis Jackson III) wrote in the caption. 50 Cent had a major impact on the NYC rap scene – more specifically, in the Queens area. 

Big Daddy Kane Left Speechless

In an Instagram post of his own, Big Daddy Kane shared an excerpt from his hit song ‘Mister Cee’s Master Plan.’ He added, “NO WORDS!!!” in the caption – a sentiment many who knew Mister Cee are feeling as they continue to mourn his death. 

Source: Flickr/steven howard

Part of the song goes: “And just for the symphony / Here comes the M.I.S.T.E.R.C.E.E / Taking a stand like a band / Mister Cee got a master plan / Hit it! / Who is the man with the master plan? (DJ Mister Cee).” 

Hip Hop Museum Toasts To ‘The Finisher’

The Hip Hop Museum – a museum dedicated to the celebration and preservation of Hip hop music in the Bronx area – also took to Instagram to pay tribute to Mister Cee, who they describe as a mobile DJ and beloved on-air personality. 

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“He became known for his masterful skills behind the turntables, captivating crowds with his seamless transitions and ability to read a room. His contributions elevated the live experiences of the artists he worked with and established him as a true tastemaker,” they wrote in the caption.

Others Take To Social Media To Honor Mister Cee

Considering how vital he was to the rap scene for the past four decades, it’s no surprise to see how many people (most of whom are legends in their own right) came forward to pay tribute to a life well-lived. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Sven Volkens

DJ Premier is remembering the ‘endless memories’ he brought to the rap community, while Chuck D called him a ‘good dude to the fullest.’ Peter Rosenberg had high praise for him, calling him ‘one of the most important and impactful DJs of all time.’ 

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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