Erick Morillo, a veteran DJ who broke into the mainstream with the 1990s hit “I Like to Move It,” was found dead Tuesday, Miami Beach police confirm to Variety. Morillo, who was 49, was facing charges of sexual assault and was scheduled for a court hearing on Friday.
A police spokesperson told Variety that officers received a 911 call at 10:42 a.m., and that detectives are in the preliminary stages of the investigation.
Morillo was arrested in August after being accused of sexual battery on an unidentified woman in an incident that took place at his home in December, after he and the woman DJ’ed at a party. Morillo denied the accusations, however after an examination tested positive for his DNA, he turned himself in to authorities, accompanied by his attorney.
Morillo was born in New York in 1971 but spent most of his pre-teen years in Colombia before returning to the U.S. with his family and settling in New Jersey. He began DJing as a teenager and teamed up with Latin musician El General, with whom he collaborated on the 1991 single “Muevelo.” The song, a mixture of house music and reggae, became a hit, and Morillo began a busy schedule of remixes and DJing. He began releasing singles under the pseudonym Reel 2 Real — the second of which was 1993’s “I Like to Move It.” The song became a global smash and led to the hit album, “Move It,” all of which made Morillo one of the most successful DJs of the era.
However, he became disillusioned with success and worked to establish himself as a DJ, producer and musician separate from Reel 2 Real. He began releasing projects under his own name and collaborating with widely respected DJ “Little” Louis Vega under the name Lil Mo’ Ying Yang. He joined forces with several other DJs, including Junior Sanchez, to form the Double Platinum management company in 1997, and also his own label, Subliminal Records; he also worked under the names Ministers De La Funk, The Dronez (with Harry “Choo Choo” Romero and Jose Nunez) and remixed songs by artists ranging from Whitney Houston to Basement Jaxx.
He worked extensively under the Subliminal name in the following years, releasing several singles (including the club hit “Fun” under the name Da Mob) and started a popular club night under the name in New York in 1999. In 2004 he released his debut solo album, “My World,” which featured collaborations with Diddy and Boy George; the following year, “I Like to Move It” found a whole new audience when it was featured in the DreamWorks animated film “Madagascar” as well as its sequel, which included voice work from Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Through the years, Morillo continued to work extensively across the globe as a DJ, winning multiple prestigious DJ awards, working many MTV shows and events, founding the annual Crobar party in Miami as well as the Subliminal Sessions in Ibiza. In 2012, a street in Union City, New Jersey, where he had lived in his youth, was dedicated Erick Morillo Way.
He struggled with substance abuse throughout his career, and in 2013 he announced he was taking some time off after he missed a show and behaved erratically at another. He continued to DJ and release singles and remixes, with his productivity only beginning to tail off last year.