Mister Cee, New York Radio DJ and Notorious B.I.G. Producer, Dies at 57

Calvin LeBrun, the New York radio DJ best known as Mister Cee, has died, the hip-hop station Hot 97 reports, citing his family. A cause of death has not been revealed. Mister Cee was 57 years old.

Mister Cee grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and, in 1988, he took part in the debut album from one of the New York neighborhood’s brightest young stars, Big Daddy Kane. Cee was the DJ on Long Live the Kane, and he’s the subject of the album’s penultimate track, “Mister Cee’s Master Plan.” Cee continued his work with Kane through the early 1990s, earning credits on 1989’s It’s a Big Daddy Thing, 1990’s Taste of Chocolate, 1991’s Prince of Darkness, and 1993’s Looks Like a Job For….

Cee is also often credited with discovering another pillar of Brooklyn hip-hop, the Notorious B.I.G. “I knew he was dope,” Cee recalled of the late legend last year. “I didn’t think he would become what he would before passing away. All I did at the time was try to get anybody and everybody to listen to him. Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, I would try to force Biggie down their throat like you gotta hear this guy. Had we had the wear with all we do now as grown men, me and Masta Ace could have put Biggie out or me and Kane.” Eventually, Mister Cee served as an executive producers on the Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic 1994 debut, Ready to Die.

Beyond his work as a producer, Mister Cee spent decades as a DJ on New York’s popular hip-hop radio station Hot 97 (WQHT-FM, 97.1). Writing about the DJ in 2013, The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica called Cee “the station’s institutional memory and its living link to history, its one reliable purveyor of hip-hop classics.” Cee was admired so much for his work with the station that fellow Brooklyn luminary Jay-Z shouted out him and Funkmaster Flex on 2009’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)”: “I made this just for Flex and Mister Cee.”

Despite his success, Mister Cee left Hot 97 in 2013 after several arrests for soliciting oral sex from transgender prostitutes. The DJ used his resignation as an opportunity to speak openly about his sexuality in an interview with Ebro Darden that Jody Rosen called “a watershed moment for hip-hop culture, which has slowly been casting off its long-standing homophobia.”

“What you did today in hip-hop is monumental,” Darden said to Mister Cee on air. “You have saved people’s lives today in a real way.”

Mister Cee returned to Hot 97, but resigned again in 2014, telling The New York Times that he did not agree with the musical direction in which the station was headed. He continued to broadcast and post his mixes online.

“We have lost the iconic Mister Cee,” Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg posted on X. “I listened to him yesterday and am in complete shock. He was a dear friend to all of us, a wonderful man, and one of the most important and impactful DJs of all time. I love you Cee.”