Thursday marked 20 years since Biggie’s passing and being the fan that I am, I thought this would be a good time to do a kind of tribute post/tell my Biggie story. I wanted to give the post the attention it deserves so I decided to wait until today when I had more time to craft the post. Biggie was everywhere on Thursday. The first thing you realise is that you are old if you remember listening to Biggie when he was alive. It hit me that my sister who turns 19 in a couple of weeks and she wasn’t even born when Life after Death came out! I remember when that album came out and Mo Money more Problems was the tune!
I was listening to Hot 97 on Thursday and Megan Ryte had a really good tribute to Biggie going and in between she threw in some contemporary songs. When you go from listening to Biggie to Migos or who ever, you realize how different music is these days. Lyrical content is much weaker and the music is dependent on production and melodies. That’s by the way.
Here is how I got into Biggie. I grew up with two of my cousins – one older and one my age and right around 97, the older one got a disc man and. He got two albums one Cypress Hill one and the Life after Death double CD. I didn’t really care (and I still don’t care) about Cypress Hill but that Life after Death got me especially the second CD. I remember trying to figure out exactly what was being said on Notorious Thugs. There are so many feel good songs on that album and the subject matter wasn’t really difficult to follow for me at the time. That is why I didn’t really listen to Tupac as a kid, I always wondered what he was so angry about. Biggie was smooth man. His music made you bop your head and want to sing along.
Anyway as I got older and got a disc man and a CD of my own, I found a way to get the Life after Death Album and proceeded to rinse it out but I lost the first CD so I was more familiar with the songs on the second CD. When I got to University and realised I could download music, I decided to be more of a student of Biggie and that’s when I got into Ready to Die. Life after Death has some really good songs!
When I got into Ready to Die that’s when I realised there are 2 Biggies: there is the happy feel good one which shows up on what I’d call love songs – Miss You, One More Chance or feel good songs – Juicy, Big Poppa, Sky is the Limit. That’s the Biggie that caught my ear as a 10 or 11 year old. When I got older, I discovered Biggie the story teller: Everyday struggle, Suicidal Thoughts, Somebody’s gotta die etc. Sometimes, he even combined the two – (Me and My Bitch). On Hot 97, they were saying Biggie didn’t get enough credit as a story teller and I think I agree with that assessment.
What I wonder about is how Biggie’s legacy would have evolved if he didn’t die. In a way, the fact that he died so early preserved his greatness. He didn’t have time to make a bad record. He was only 24 at the time he died and my take is that his legacy will probably have watered down if he lived longer. Imagine if Nas died after It was Written? What do you think his legacy would have been like but with I am… and Nastradamus, he proved he was human (I don’t entirely blame him for those wack albums but we will get into that some other time). I think Biggie would have gone through the ups and downs other artists have gone through but he was too good and he would definitely have come through.
Megan Ryte had Lil Cease and Mr Cee on Hot 97 on Thursday and they were asked to pick their top 5 Biggie songs. All that is left is for me to follow suit.
5. Juicy: “It was all a dream” – My best songs are ones where someone is reminiscing about their Journey and this song has me all the way: Super Ninetendo, Sega Genesis when I was dead broke men, I couldn’t picture this/50 inch screen, money green leather sofa/ got 2 rides, a limousine with a chauffer. I love that stuff. I’ve listened to so much Biggie this week, it is so funny how much his lines have been jacked!
4. Big Poppa: This was my ring tone at some point. The first few bars before he starts rapping feels like you’re being hypnotised. Lol. My favourite line(s): Who they attracting with that line what’s your name, whats your sign/as soon as he buy that wine, I just scoop up from behind and ask you what your interests are.
3. Me and My Bitch: I love love this song. The song is basically a love story and I actually have a visual in my head of the story! That’s how vivid his descriptions were and for someone like me who likes painting mental pictures, this song is everything. My favourite line is from the last verse after they kill his girl. When I pulled up, Police was on the scene, had to make a u-turn, make sure my shit was clean/drove down the block, stashed the burner in the bushes/stepped to the police with the shoves and the pushes/it didn’t take long before the tears start/ I saw my bitch dead with a gunshot to the heart. Not because it is so brilliant but because you can imagine him turning around the corner and making sure everything was clean before stepping to the police. I actually thought it was a real life story when I first got into the song.
2. Somebody’s Gotta Die: This was Biggie at his story telling best. Again, you can follow all the action in your head if you make mental pictures. What I like and what helps is the sounds in the background. You can hear the guy talking about how they killed C-Roc. When he says I stop the dogs from barking then proceed to walking, you can hear dogs barking and shut up. Favourite Line? I start to get a funny feeling/put a mask on in case this nigga starts squealing/scream his name out (someone yells yo play boy in the background), squeeze 6 nothing short of (you hear the 6 shots)/nigga turn around holding his daughter (you hear the guy drop and a baby crying) Brilliant. It was almost like the climax of what he has been talking about for the whole song.
1. Sky’s the Limit: Speaking of being introspective and talking about your journey. This song does it all for me. 112 supply the chorus. Actually it says 112 but the only person I can hear is slim. Clark Kent is crazy on the production too. Best line – After realising the master enterprising, I ain’t have to be in school by 10/I then began to encounter, with my counter parts of how to burn the block apart/break em down into sections/some use pipes, other use injections/syringe sold separately, frank the deputy/quick to grab my smith and wesson like my dick was missing. Here he is combining story telling with feel good with being aspitational!
Notable mentions go to Miss U, One more chance, Everyday Struggle, Suicidal Thoughts and Notorious Thugs. I also love Biggies verse on the remix to 112’s only you.
In other Biggie news, Faith Evans is releasing a Joint Album with Biggie. I heard the first single with my man Jadakiss and didn’t like it if I’m honest. I prefer the duets album. That had a lot of tunes.
I kind of like this music run down thing. I might do a few more!