Arguably, one of the greatest rappers to ever live, The Notorious B.I.G (or Frank White or Biggie, if you preferred his pseudonyms), was truly a once in a generation rapper. He came up in the early 90s, when I was still a little kid, so I didn’t really know much about him, but I do remember my uncles playing Ready to Die at my Grandparents’ house (when they weren’t playing Bob Marley or Wu Tang).
Coming out of the infamous Bedford – Stuyvesant region of Brooklyn, NY, as we all know, it was a different time back in the 70s & 80s. I personally can’t relate, because I wasn’t even a thought in my future parents’ cerebrum at the time. I was merely speck & dust, but as the infamous story about Biggie goes, this rapper was one that saw struggle, grew up in the street life living with a single mother, and saw music as his way to communicate his struggles to the world.
Now, I’ll spare you the Wikipedia biography summary, because you can easily go there to read that; this is about remembering B.I.G and his everlasting impact that he had on Hip Hop. He certainly deems to be placed in anyone’s Top 5 or Top 10 list of rappers of all time, considering the fact that, yes he only released 2 albums, but at the same time, the immediate impact he had on hip hop, and the thousands of future rappers that would use him as an influence for their rhymes. That, to me would garner the title of being one of the best rappers of all time.
Biggie is one of my favourite rappers, there’s no question about that. His storytelling ability, and the mafioso themes in most of his songs were so cinematic, it felt as if the songs came alive as they played. There’s not one Biggie song that you can think of that wouldn’t have you screwing up your face and just taking in how he went on the beat (Example: Hypnotize), or the deep songs that he made to make you really take in the other side of him (Example: Suicidal Thoughts). Biggie had his way with words, and he did it in such a way that his flow could never be duplicated, only imitated, and Photoshop copied.
Jay-Z, has always been apart of controversy when it came to his style, because he was always getting the finger pointed at him saying that he was biting off of Biggie, but, let’s be fair, Jay-Z DID SAY:
I’m not a biter
I’m a writer
For myself and others
I say a B.I.G. verse I’m only biggin up my brother
Biggin up my borough
I’m big enough to do it
I’m that thorough
Plus i know my own flow is foolish
So, you can’t hate on Jay-Z that much; give him the benefit of the doubt. He respected Biggie, and they had a close bond, so of course if one of your boys died, you wouldn’t pay homage to your dear friend? That’s my argument, but that’s another argument, I’m not here to talk about Jigga. He’s not dead, he’s living for another 50 years, so….whatever, back to Big.
If Biggie didn’t die at such a young age, and he put out more albums like Ready to Die or Life After Death, there’s no way you could contest him being #1 on your list, but the fact that he DID die that young and with only 2 albums that sold millions of records, and is still being played today as if he never died in the first place, it just goes to show you how much the cliché goes, “You’re more respected dead than alive,” although there are many exceptions.
It’s difficult to talk about Biggie, because he was more in my parent’s generation. his albums both came out before I turned 10 years old, and my parents were into their 20s, so basically my age. 15 years have passed since he died, so the children born in the late 80s & early 90s, really don’t have much of a recollection of what it was like as a teenager or 20-something listening to Biggie while he was doing it major.It was always weird to see him on TV as a little kid, and I didn’t even know when he died until I was a little older, because I didn’t really understand the whole life & death aspect as of yet, but Biggie’s always alive in the people who listened to him and were truly devoted fans of his.
The infamous rap beef between Big & Tupac will forever be hip hop lore. The story behind it all, and the fact that both rappers got shot almost exactly 6 months apart from each other was truly bizarre. They were both at their primes in hip hop, and had really somewhat bridged a gap in hip hop that was missing. The East Coast & West always had their differences, but there was a time when Biggie & Pac were good friends, which makes the beef all the more interesting, when you look more into it. They’re a lot things you can read in relation to it, but I’m not going to dive deep into it, because you pretty much know what happened. The only thing is that, will their murders ever be solved? That’s what’s been going on for 15 years, and it still seems as if that won’t happen anytime soon, or at all.
People will argue and debate for as long as life goes on as to who the best rapper of all time was; Biggie will always be a name that’s in the conversation, and there will always be arguments against why that is true or not, but Biggie will always be in a Top 10 list for me. As I stated before, there will never be a flow or a voice that can instantly grab you like that. The punchlines that he crafted into his poetic & versatile flow will never be recreated, and the everlasting impact is one of the most significant in history. He paved the way for a lot of rappers who went from the street life to the lavish life. Selling crack to selling millions of records was merely a fantasy dream, but it became a reality, and others decided to follow suit. He was truly an inspiration for all, so you have to respect him for that, even though he wasn’t the greatest human being.
With that being said, here are the albums that you really SHOULD have on your computers, and enjoy them. Let the soul of Biggie live on, BABY BABY
That’s My Word & It STiXX
Biggie Throwback Video