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Remembering The Notorious B.I.G.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008 marked the 11th anniversary of the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. Today your SoulBounce Editors look back and remember the man who changed the hip-hop game forever.

nOva says:
 

There's a reason fans like me look at people like B.I.G., 'Pac, and
J.M.J. as martyrs of some sort. Very few artists these days display any
redeeming qualities other than their talent for making hits. Very few
are moving forward and changing the game. It's hard these days to say
what separates one cat from the next because everyone sounds alike now.

When Biggie rhymed, you felt like he was sitting right across from
you, telling you how his day went. He was personable, and his
conversational humor made you feel right at home. We related to this
guy. He wasn't a pretty boy; by his own account he wasn't very
attractive at all. But you can imagine with the amount of charisma he
had why any woman would want to be by his side.

People outside of hip-hop just don't get it. To them, he was just
another rapper that lived by the sword and died by it. But every
culture, every generation has someone that just speaks to them. He laid
his flaws on the table, let everyone know how he felt about the game,
made me understand that as a black youth, I was valid, no
matter what anyone else would have me believe. He talked about
struggling. Me and a lot of people I know are struggling right now,
hustling in our own ways to get by. That's why Biggie matters to us,
that's why we broke down when we lost him. He was our voice. Not
necessarily the face of our culture, but a damn good representative of
how a lot of us felt.

ill Mami says:

I remember Notorious B.I.G. as "Biggie Smalls," a name that he was no
longer able to use after his career exploded due to someone else
copyrighting the name. I've never been really able to call him by his
now trademarked name. When "Juicy" first dropped, I remember the
atmosphere in East Coast hip hop at the time was one of fun, no matter
what camp you pitched your tent: the angry, yelling Oynx-type cats, the Black Moon-type backpackers, the funk-influenced Redman-types, or the jazz-influenced ATCQ/Pete Rock & CL Smooth peoples.


What
was so interesting about Biggie is that he seemingly came out of
nowhere, even if you were involved in the music business, his initial
presence was like a tsunami. One day no one knew his name, and the next
day everyone's talking about this new cat Biggie Smalls. To his credit
and by his own admission, he was not the most attractive dude, but he
could flow very, very well, and the beats that accompanied his music
were unparalleled. Ready To Die
is still one of my favorite albums to this day, in part because of the
good times I was having when the album dropped. I was young, in
college, and partying too much for my own good. Biggie often narrarated
those times when I was in full party mode. 


Sadly,
the way I viewed Biggie from that point on completely changed. "Mo'
Money, Mo' Problems" was right. From the beef he had with his-then wife
Faith Evans and how it played out on wax on the collabo he had with Jay-Z on "Brooklyn's Finest"
("She'll probably have 2 Pacs/ Get it?/ Two? Pacs?") was disgusting to
me. I furthermore tuned out the madness when the East Coast/West Coast
rap war played out in the media with the unfortunate but, let's face
it, expected result: two Black men slain. 

The
day Biggie died, I have to say I wasn't really sad. I was moreso angry
than anything that someone's child, husband, and father had died over words. Hip hop lyrics at that. Especially because the reason hip hop culture came into being was to squash beefs with words and not with gunplay. What I remember most about Biggie's death are the shots of what seemed to be all of Brooklyn following Biggie's casket as it was led down the streets in the funeral procession. That and Lil' Kim crying and being held up by Mary J. Blige. It's sad to think about his murder still being unsolved 11 years later as well. It's still such a shame. 


Harlem says:

After
all these years, I still remember it like it was yesterday. Still
remember where I was (New York), what I was doing when I first heard
(lying in bed), how I reacted (half dropped jaw, half teary-eyed), how
I felt (in shock and sick to my stomach). I remember the somberness
that enveloped New York at the time. One of our soldiers was dead.
Killed senselessly a coast away.  

We all took it personally. We
had to. We weren't going to just miss Biggie Smalls, the artist. We
would miss what he meant, what he represented, what he was about to
become. We would miss the greatness that came with being the cream of
the crop. The majesty. The heights. The whole city, which now seemed
like a neighborhood--we must've been dreaming. He thought that the
worst that could happen was over with, still recovering from a broken
leg that was suffered earlier that year. He thought this new disc would
make him a legend in his own time. And New York thought the same thing.
We dreamt of Biggie Smalls transforming all the way from hood rat to
top dog. And he was on his way. On his way to the top.

It's been
11 years without a suspect or a motive in the death of Christopher
Wallace, out of Brooklyn and on his way to B.I.G. things. It's been 11
years since "the greatest rapper alive" left us tragically. It's been
11 years of head-scratching, of chalking it up to the game, of apparent
inertia on the part of the LAPD. Blatant. Calculated.  Deliberate. In
fact, there have been more documentaries made regarding the murder
(one) than arrests (zero). The search for justice has been all a dream.

Butta says:

Looking
back on the Notorious B.I.G., you wouldn't think that he'd be someone
that I would like. He was vulgar, slightly misogynistic, and rapped
about subjects that my sheltered behind knew absolutely nothing
about--nor did I care to. But not only did I like Biggie, I loved Biggie.

He didn't need to be fine like LL to pull the honies or rely on an over-the-top persona like Busta to
get attention. The dude was the realest and that was what appealed to
so many people on so many levels, including me. His music was the
perfect storm of hip hop from that era. B.I.G.'s lyrical flow was sick
with no one even coming close to touching his wordplay. His natural
charm and personality came across in his songs, and you felt as if dude
was your boy.

It saddens me that after 11 years there is still
no resolution in his murder case, but I'm not surprised. Although
Biggie was a hip hop hero to a number of people, I'm sure he was just
another dead nigga to others. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming movie
about his life and times depicts his murder and the ensuing
investigation. We all still want answers and for someone to be held
responsible for taking such a talent away from us.  

Until
that day comes, I'll continue to rap along with Biggie word-for-word
(picture that) whenever his songs come on the radio or I pull 'em up on
my iTunes and two-step to his videos on YouTube just to
reminisce on the good old days. Biggie Smalls truly was and still is
the illest.


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4 Responses

  1. I was about 15 when he passed, and at the time, the walls in my bedroom were COVERED with posters and pictures I used to pull out from "The Source" and "Vibe".
    Anyway, I will never forget that the night he died, his picture fell off my wall onto the floor. No joke.
    I often wonder what his music would be like today if he was still alive.
    R.I.P Biggie

  2. I was 17 and I remember that Sunday morning when my mom came into my room and told me this very well. I was stunned. That was a strange day, that's for sure. I was glad I got to see him live in his lifetime.

  3. MY favorite male rapper of all time....well him and BDK are tied for 1st. I still remember in college hitting the store at midnight to cop Life After Death. I just HAD to have it right then and there. I know every word to every Biggie song and that's huge for me. I even made up my own rap to "Another" from LAD.
    Not many could and can touch his lyrical skills. Too soon, just too soon.
    We'll always love you Big Poppa.
    Oh and I'm giving the movie the major side eye. I just don't know...

  4. WE ALL MISS YOU B.I.G REST IN PEACE



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