UPDATE 11/2/08: Shakir’s fiancée, Michelle Rivers, released a joint statement with the rest of his family.

“We would like to thank Shakir’s friends for the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received during this difficult time,” the statement reads. “It has helped us to cope with our overwhelming grief and sadness. It is difficult to express or explain in words what led to the tragic occurrence on Saturday. Over the past several weeks, Shakir’s behavior was inconsistent with the man we all know and love. As much as we all tried to help him, Shakir was in deep pain and largely suffering in silence. Please remember Shakir for who he was … a wonderful father, partner, son and friend.”

Stewart was 34 years old. Cobb County Police spokeswoman Cassie Reece was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, telling the paper that his body was found in the bathroom of his home around 4 p.m. Saturday. He was taken to the Kenne Hospital with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and later pronounced dead.

Def Jam Executive VP Shakir Stewart, who replaced Jay-Z as the head of the label- signing artists including Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and newbie Karina Pasian, died near Atlanta today of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Stewart was found Saturday afternoon in the bathroom of his home in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Cobb County police spokeswoman Cassie Reece said Sunday. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Shakir began his career in 80’s promoting concerts for Too Short, Nas and Scarface, before replacing Jay-Z at the top of the Def Jam in June. He still retained his duties as senior VP of A&R at Island Def Jam. A native of Oakland, CA., he learned his craft at Hitco Music Publishing as creative director and later Sr. VP of Creative/General Manager. He signed Beyonce Knowles.

Shakir had a workaholic reputation- he tirelessly promoted shows while he was attending Moorehouse College, passing out fliers 7 days and nights a week in 20 degree weather. Stewart described the type of music executive he looked for to mentor:

He said at the time it was his goal to help develop “new, young executives … The hot executive who’s 21, 22 years old and has a serious passion for music and the desire to work 27 hours a day. That’s where I was at that time in my life. And that’s who I’m looking to mentor. I don’t see many people like that. Instead, I see a lot of kids who want to live the lifestyle but don’t want to put in the work and do what it takes.”

By all accounts, Shakir was a stand-up guy who was well liked in the industry, and especially loved in Atlanta. He was last heard from around 2pm this afternoon. Further information as it develops. Our thoughts go out to Shakir’s family and friends.

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