8 year ago today, Christopher Wallace (A.K.A. Biggie Smalls, Notorious B.I.G., Frank White) was murdered.
My memory is vague, but I believe I was on my way to work when I heard about his death. I was waiting for the bus from Jersey into the city with had my headphones on, listening to Hot 97. The announcement came on and I felt a loss, like something was taken from me. I was in the same place when I herd Tupac was shot a few months earlier and I didn’t feel the same way. Partially because he wasn’t dead yet, partially because I felt he was asking for it, running with Death Row and acting crazy.
If you are a hip-hop fan of a certain age, Biggie vs. Tupac is your Beatles vs. Rolling Stones. I don’t dislike Tupac’s work and I don’t want to bust a gat at Tupac fans, but given a choice, give me Notorious. While I believe Tupac is the James Dean of hip-hop, a iconic figure that shined brightly, Biggie is the better hip-hop artist.
And make no mistake about it, Biggie owned New York. Biggie owned New York in a way Jay-Z, Run DMC, L.L. Cool J, Fat Joe or 50 Cent never did, or could. There was an emotional connection between Biggie and hip-hop fans, especially in New York. Maybe it was because he wasn’t the best looking guy out there. Okay, let me stop playing. He was ugly. Self admittedly ugly. Maybe it was his talent in putting words together. Maybe it was the humor in some of his rhymes. Maybe it was because, even with his most violent, most misogynistic songs, there appeared to be a wink to the audience that said ‘I’m just playing, y’all, having a little fun with this rap thing’ that doesn’t appear in today’s hip-hoppers.
Not counting the Junior Mafia posse album and the posthumously slapped together Born Again, Biggie only put out two albums, the last of which came out after his death in 1997. Besides the fact children were left without a father and a mother was left without a son (and it is almost distasteful to put that face aside), fans missed out on what would be next. We only got a taste of Biggie and Jay-Z on ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ they were rumored to be planning a whole album together. What would Biggie have done with new styles coming out (anyone who heard him rhyme on ‘Notorious Thugs’ with Bone Thugs N Harmony could attest he could do your style better than you)?
Rest in peace, Biggie. And big up to Brooklyn.