Dwight Arrington Myers, aka Heavy D, collapsed and died today near his home in Beverly Hills. He was 44 years old.

Heavy D came to fame in the 1980’s, the early days of rap going ‘mainstream’. He was the leader of the hip hop group ‘Heavy D and the Boyz’, which included G-Whiz, Trouble T. Roy, and Eddie F. They were the first group signed to Uptown Records, which released Heavy D and the Boyz’ first album, Living Large, in 1987. While Living Large was successful, their next album, Big Tyme, released in 1989, rocketed to #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and made it to #19 on the Billboard 200.

Their third album, Peaceful Journey, was released in 1991, and followed the death of one of the members of the group, Trouble T. Roy. This album reached #5 on the  Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #21 on the Billboard 200. The group went on to sing the theme song for the TV show ‘In Living Color’, and Heavy D performed with Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson on two of their hit singles, before trying his hand at acting. Some of the shows he appeared in include “Boston Public,” ”The Tracy Morgan Show” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

According to the Beverly Hills police department, Heavy D collapsed after a shopping trip and was unable to breath. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died. No foul play is suspected at this time.

Just last month he performed his first live performance in 15 years, singing a melody of his hits from the 80’s and 90’s at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards.