Don Newkirkan American musician best known for his work with De La Soul and 3rd Bass, passed away 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 sincere condolences 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 learned about Don Newkirk’s death.
“One of our good friends called to tell me that Don’s daughter called to tell him.”
Newkirk was known for his work on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising and 3rd Bass’ 1989 debut, The Cactus Album, where he sang The Gas Face. The musician also released his solo album Funk City under the OBR/Columbia Records arm of Def Jam Records. 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 spoke about 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 then I just felt like I could better communicate what I was trying to save with songs. So it came out as Funk City, which I think is cool because it offered people a new side of myself. And just the whole period of what was going on with our team.
When asked about his career, he said:
“Maybe I would have been more successful. If I had kept performing, 3 Feet High and Rising would have come out and ‘Gas Face’ would have come out. And so I was in that whole camp, almost in the Native Tongues camp, but not really a Native Tongue, since I sang more than I spat.
He went on to say:
“But I’m glad it happened because it left a legacy that I’m only now learning has had an impact I didn’t even know existed at the time because we didn’t have the internet.”
The murdered 56-year-old also released a second album, Between Love & Lust, in 1992, but that was shelved when Def Jam Records sold it to a subsidiary. Don joined the short-term experimental project BROOKZILL! in 2016, along with Prince Paul, Ladybug Mecca and Rodrigo Brando. Before splitting up, they collaborated on the album Throwback To The Future.
Don once again teamed up 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 and the indie film Pressure Cooker. In addition, the team wrote the title track for the podcast Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty and contributed to Chris Rock’s Grammy-winning album Never Scared.
Netizens pay tribute to Don Newkirk after learning of his tragic death.
Following the news of Don Newkirk’s death, Twitteratis expressed their condolences and recalled the artist’s contributions to the music business. Not only fans, but also other music celebrities paid their respects to the deceased singer.
RIP Don Newkirk
Known for his voiceovers on De La Soul’s, Three Feet High and Rising, and the 3rd Bass’ song, “The Gas Face”, he was also featured on the remix of De La Soul’s “Say No Go”. He also provided 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 Stetsasonic, De La Soul and 3rd Bass, his 1989 R&B album “Funk City” contained some absolute jams. Sad news. https://t.co/swVKSfmctN
— Ryan Proctor (@RyanProctor75) November 26, 2022