Don Newkirk, musician who collaborated with De La Soul, 3rd Bass, dead at 56

Don Newkirk, a musician, artist and producer known for his collaborations with De La Soul and 3rd Bass, died Friday. He was 56.

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News of Newkirk’s death was announced on social media posts on his Facebook page by family members and by hip-hop artist Rahiem of the Furious Five.

A cause of death was not given.

“It is with a heavy heart I announce the transitioning of my brother Don Newkirk,” Rahiem wrote. “Fifty-six years young. Don Newkirk was among the first R&B artists signed to Def Jam records. My condolences go out to his family. S.I.P bro.”

“My Uncle Don always kept me laughing when we would get up on the phone … and times when he felt down,” Newkirk’s niece, Ktasha Hardge, wrote in a Facebook post. “He would call me up and say, ‘I always know who to call when I’m feeling down … my niece.’ That was so sweet and I was always ready to motivate him.”

Newkirk did voiceovers on De La Soul’s 1989 debut, “Three Feet High and Rising,” according to HipHopDx.com. The native of Bronx, New York, made his solo debut several months later, “Funk City,” on Def Jam Records. The album produced a pair of singles, “I Desire” and “Sweat You.”

Newkirk teamed with hip-hop artist Prince Paul in 2020 to produce “By Every Means Necessary Vol. 1,” an instrumental project drawn from their score for the six-part Netflix documentary series “Who Killed Malcolm X?” Forbes magazine reported.

Four years earlier, Newkirk joined Prince Paul, Ladybug Mecca and Rodrigo Brandão as a member of BROOKZILL!, AllHipHop reported. The group released one album, “Throwback To The Future.”

In an interview with AllHipHop in 2021, Newkirk reflected on his impact in hip-hop and R&B music.

“‘Funk City’ was like in a mode of me experimenting, learning instrumentation and learning how to use my voice in a different way other than just rapping,” Newkirk told the website. “Because I was never a singer. I was always an MC. But I just felt like I could express what I was trying to save better with melody back then. So it came out more so as ‘Funk City,’ which I think is dope because it gave people a whole different element of me. And just that whole time of like what was going on our crew.”


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