Music manager Chris Lighty, who helped the careers of stars like 50 Cent and Mariah Carey, has been found dead at his flat in New York.

Police say the shooting appears to be a suicide and that there were no signs of forced entry.

The 44-year-old had been going through a divorce and had been having financial and other personal problems.

Stars including Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Diddy have been paying tribute to the hip hop businessman on Twitter.

Rihanna posted: "Rest peacefully Chris Lighty, my prayers go out to family and loved ones! Dear God please have mercy."

Nicki Minaj said: "Another tragic & inconceivable loss for the culture. #RIPChrisLighty."

Diddy wrote: "In shock," while Mary J. Blige said: "U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living. take it easy on people."

'Greatly missed'

50 Cent issued a statement through his publicist saying that he was saddened by the loss.

"Chris has been an important part of my business and personal growth for a decade," he said.

"He was a good friend and adviser who helped me develop as an artist and businessman.

"My prayers are with his family. He will be greatly missed."

Police say no suicide note was found at Chris Lighty's home in the Bronx but a 9mm handgun had been recovered.

His body was found on Thursday morning (30 August).

Chris Lighty, who had two children, had been a part of the hip hop scene for decades.

During his career he worked with stars like LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott and Fat Joe and initially worked for Rush Management, Russell Simmons' first company before he founded rap record label Def Jam.

He set up his own management company, Violator, in the late 1990s.

In a 2007 interview for Associated Press (AP), Chris Lighty talked about how his stars could make money outside music.

He said: "As music sales go down because kids are stealing it off the internet and trading it and MP3 sales continue to rise, you can't rely on just the income that you would make off being an artist."