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Rap legend Heavy D — one of the most influential rappers of the ’90s — died earlier today … TMZ has learned.

Heavy D — real name Dwight Arrington Myers — was rushed to an L.A. hospital around noon today … and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1 PM. He was 44 years old.

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Many may not know but Heavy D was one of the founding pioneers of Hip Hop in the 1980s with his group Heavy D & the Boys. In addition, he was one of the top label executives for Uptown Records, where Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, and Puff Daddy started their music careers. Over the years, Heavy D was one of the first rappers to expand his career into the world of acting, and continued to evolve as an artist, releasing a reggae influenced album in 2008. SOURCE