Don Newkirk, an American musician best known for his work with De La Soul and 3rd Bass, died at the age of 56. On November 26, hip-hop musician Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five announced his death on his Facebook page:
“My heartfelt sympathies go out to my brother Don Newkirk’s family as he transitions. Don Newkirk was one of the first R&B musicians to sign with Defjam. May he rest in peace.”
Rahiem explained to AllHipHop how he found out about Don Newkirk’s death.
“One of our close friends phoned to tell me that Don’s daughter had called to tell him.”
Newkirk was well-known for his work on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising and 3rd Bass’s 1989 debut, The Cactus Album, where he sang The Gas Face. The musician also released his solo album, Funk City, under Def Jam Records’ OBR/Columbia Records branch. Sweat You and I Desire, two of his most successful hits, come from the aforementioned album.
Don Newkirk expected his career as an emcee to be more fruitful than his career as a singer.
Don Newkirk addressed his solo album Funk City and how it experimented with his voice in areas other than rapping with AllHipHop in 2021:
“Because I’ve never been a singer.” I’ve always been an MC. But back then, I simply felt like I could communicate what I was trying to rescue better with song. So it came out as Funk City, which I think is cool because it offered people a new side of myself. And simply the whole period of what was going on with our team.”
When asked about his career, he stated:
“Perhaps I would have had greater success. If I had kept to emceeing, 3 Feet High and Rising would have been out, and ‘Gas Face’ was going to come out. And so I was in that entire camp, almost in the Native Tongues camp but not really a Native Tongue, since I was singing rather than spitting.”
He went on to say:
“But I’m pleased it went down the way it did because it left a legacy that I’m just now learning has had an impact that I didn’t even realize existed back then because we didn’t have internet.”
The murdered 56-year-old also released a second album, Between Love & Lust, in 1992, but it was shelved when Def Jam Records sold it to a subsidiary. Don joined the short-term experimental project BROOKZILL! in 2016, together with Prince Paul, Ladybug Mecca, and Rodrigo Brando. Before splitting up, they collaborated on the album Throwback To The Future.
Don collaborated once again with Prince Paul to create the soundtrack for the Netflix documentary Who Killed Malcolm X. They previously worked on and wrote the music for the 2004 film The Best Thief In The World as well as the indie film Pressure Cooker. In addition, the team wrote the title song for the podcast Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty and contributed to Chris Rock’s Grammy-winning album Never Scared.
Netizens pay homage to Don Newkirk after learning of his tragic death.
Following the news of Don Newkirk’s death, Twitteratis expressed their condolences and remembered the artist’s contributions to the music business. Not just fans, but other music celebrities, offered their respects to the late singer.
RIP Don Newkirk
Known for voice-overs on De La Soul’s, Three Feet High and Rising, and the 3rd Bass’ song, “The Gas Face” he also was on the remix to “Say No Go” by De La Soul. He also delivered the baseline, lead horn line and keyboards on Stetsasonic’s “Talking All That Jazz”. pic.twitter.com/DONCPipAM1
— Ave (@SebastianAvenue) November 26, 2022
RIP Don Newkirk. Aside from working with the likes of Stetsasonic, De La Soul and 3rd Bass, his 1989 R&B album “Funk City” had some absolute jams on it. Sad news. https://t.co/swVKSfmctN
— Ryan Proctor (@RyanProctor75) November 26, 2022