And that’s an understatement considering the current landscape of Hiphop and rap music, what with all the emphasis being placed on Hip-Pop and em-singing instead of emceeing from rappers who are true to and respect Hiphop culture.
A voice that surprisingly still resonates with the finicky taste of Hiphop heads who routinely shun anything if it isn’t brand spanking new.
Despite the fact that most if not all the rhymes that we still hear from the Notorious B.I.G. are recycled [again and again] from his lone two studio albums that he recorded in life, he remains a top contender for the coveted title of greatest rapper of all time.
That is an amazing feat when you take into account the mass influx of quality [and not-so-quality] rappers that have paraded in and out of the industry (including the rappers he helped put on) since BIG’s passing 14 years ago on this day, March 9, 1997.
I was finishing up my senior year in college when I heard the news, which, since there was no Internet back then, was at first tough to confirm. No one wanted to believe that BIG was dead.
And more than a decade later it seems the same remains true.
With a successful biopic and countless rappers imitating BIG or shouting out BIG or sampling BIG lyrics (or even stealing Biggie’s lines), it is obvious he still remains a lyrical force to be reckoned with.
The only time I got to see BIG perform live was back in the mid 90s at a bowling alley-turned nightclub on Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth, Virginia. He had his snap cap, bright-colored shirt and Versace shades complete with a cane for the regal effect that he favored. He delivered his rhymes perfectly on stage with no hint of a lack of breath control (a true feat for a man of his size and weight) before gunshots rang out and the crowd hit the floor, scurrying to exit the building alive.
BIG survived that shootout before ultimately meeting his fate in another, but the memory of his lyrical mastery lives on well beyond those two incidents.
Below are a couple of my favorite Biggie moments. Enjoy.