Don Newkirk, who collaborated with De La Soul, Prince Paul, 3rd Bass & more, dead at 55
Don Newkirk, the NYC musician and hip hop producer who collaborated with De La Soul, 3rd Bass, and more, died on Friday (11/25). The news came via his sister, Olivia Harris, who wrote that he died suddenly. He was 55.
Most closely associated with producer Prince Paul, Don played on Stetsasonic's "All That Jazz," and was brought in for De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising's to play the announcer on the game show skits. Don also played on the "New Keys Vocal" remix of De La's "Say No Go."
"If you know me you know him," Prince Paul wrote on Instagram. "I'm still trying to process that this really happened? I could write a book on our friendship our brotherhood. I'm not good on social media so ...... A big part of who I am is due to him. This isn't fair... RIP my soul brother."
De La Soul paid tribute on Instagram, writing, "Ever since high school, we all knew Don Newkirk was undoubtedly a special kind. Fearless in expression and just a positive, talented vessel destined for success. His voice was the final cherry on top that closed our album 3ft High and Rising. Thank you Don, may you rest peacefully fam."
Don's distinctive voice can also be heard as the announcer on 3rd Bass' "The Gas Face," and as a musician and producer he also collaborated with George Clinton, Grazediggaz, The Black Flames, and more. He made his own music, too, as Newkirk, releasing Funk City in 1989 via Def Jam R&B subsidiary OBR.
Don continued working with Prince Paul, as part of New York-via-San-Paulo hip hop supergroup BROOKZILL!, and they also collaborated on a number of film scores, including Netflix documentary Who Killed Malcolm X.
Rest in peace, Don. We lost you too soon. Listen to some of his music and read more tributes from Chuck D, Questlove, Open Mike Eagle, and more, below.