How the Notorious BIG lives on 25 years after his assassination

“It was all a dream/I read Word Up! Magazine,” the Notorious BIG rapped on his 1994 breakout hit “Juicy.” And three years later, he was living the dream before it all came to a tragic end.

Two weeks before the March 1997 release “Life after death” – his second and final studio album – the rapper planned to mesmerize London in support of the ambitious double LP. And while bottles were popping at Vibe magazine’s Post-Soul Train Awards party in Los Angeles, he tried to convince DJ Clark Kent to be his spinning pal across the pond.

“He said, ‘Yo, you have to go on tour with me. We’re going to London for this new album,'” Kent – who was senior vice president of A&R at Motown Records at the time – told The Post. “And I said, ‘Man, you know I have a job.’ But he said, ‘I’m going to London and you’re coming with me.’ ”

Unfortunately, the two never made that journey: after leaving the party at Petersen Automobile Museumthe Notorious BIG, also known as Biggie Smalls, was killed at the age of 24 in a seated drive-by shoot in his GMC Suburban. 25 years after his assassination on March 9, 1997, the case remains an unsolved mystery.

The infamous BIG
The Notorious BIG at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.
Jeff Kravitz

“It’s becoming more mythical that it’s not solved, that we don’t know [who murdered him]’ said Alan Light, who was the editor-in-chief of Vibe at the time.

And Kent can’t shake the feeling that Biggie should never have gone to that party — six months later the murder of Tupac Shakur the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry had escalated.

“We were at the hotel earlier and we were talking about things,” Kent said. “I didn’t know he was coming to the party. And then I go to the party and he’s there. I’m like, ‘What the f–k?’ Because in my mind I was like, ‘Dog, stay out of the way.’ I didn’t want him to get in my way because for me the tension was there. . . I just didn’t even really feel like he should have been in LA.”

But after only making two studio albums in his career – with just one, his classic debut “Ready To Die” from 1994 published during his lifetime – the legacy of the Notorious BIG lives on a quarter century later. In fact, he became only the second solo rapper inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. And whenever “Juicy”, “Hypnotize”, “One More Chance” or “Mo Money Mo Problems” are on, Big Poppa still rocks the party.

The infamous BIG
The Notorious BIG only made two studio albums in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame career.

“What’s so remarkable to me is that hip-hop is evolving really fast. . . is always kind of both eyes forward,” Light said. “And the fact that 25 years after his death [in] He’s still at the top of almost every conversation about the greatest MCs of all time. That’s an amazing thing.”

************************************************** ************

Born Christopher Wallace in Brooklyn, Notorious BIG was making waves on New York’s underground hip-hop scene before being signed to Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records. Easy Mo Bee, who produced both “Ready To Die” and “Life After Death,” had heard Biggie’s demo before meeting the rapper to work on it “Party & Cops – – t” for the 1993 “Who’s the Man?” sound track.

“My first impression of him was natural [of] this big fat guy,” said Easy Mo Bee. “I started wondering, like, ‘How is the public going to receive him?’ But when those lyrics came out, that just took over. His lyrics replaced any thoughts you might have, “Could he succeed?” His lyrical skills stood out.”

And in addition to his command of language, imagery and storytelling, Light believes Biggie’s delivery was as good as it gets. “Donald Harrison, this great jazz saxophonist, was his neighbor and they sat and listened and studied jazz records together,” he said. “And you can hear that by the way his delivery jumps over the bars. It sounds like a bebop solo at times.”

DJ Clark Kent
DJ Clark Kent joined the Notorious BIG at shows after his career took off with “Juicy”.
Donato Sardella

When Biggie needed a DJ to play shows, Mark Pitts, the rapper’s manager at the time, picked Kent. “He said, ‘Yo, you gotta be his DJ, dog, because you’ve been around for years,'” said Kent, who gave the rapper a valuable lesson about his newfound juice at one of his early shows in Minneapolis. “He didn’t want that ‘Juicy.’ I say: ‘Dog, you have to!’ So I throw up ‘Juicy’ and he said, ‘Yo turn that s–t off.’ And suddenly people started throwing s–t on stage. . . He just didn’t love the song that much. But he was beginning to understand the power of it.”

************************************************** ************

“Ready To Die” not only went six times platinum and immediately established Biggie as a major new player in the hip-hop game, but also gave West Coast rappers some real East Coast competition.

“That was a time when the commercial focus had certainly shifted to California,” Light said. “You speak from the top of [Dr.] Dre and G-Funk and stuff that’s really mind-blowing where audiences go.” And Biggie was “someone who could bring the focus back to a New York aesthetic.”

Since the Notorious BIG was Combs’ award-winning protégé – who found himself in a well-publicized feud with West Coast rap kingpin and Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight – Light said, “It feels, like he was somehow drawn into history.”

The Notorious BIG mural in Brooklyn
The Notorious BIG mural near the corner of Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street in Brooklyn.
Gregory P. Mango

But Kent insists there was no East Coast West Coast beef from Biggie’s side. “He has nothing to do with what happened to ‘Pac,'” he said. “It was just awful – all of the s – – t were lies. So he was lied to, and then it just went the way it went. It was f– turned up.”

In fact, Notorious BIG gave some love to California on the track “Life After Death.” “Back to Cali”: “Y’all – – – – it’s a mess / Think I’ll stop giving LA props / All I’ve got is beef with those that hurt me.”

Still, that LA trip would prove fateful – and fatal – for Biggie. And there were various conspiracy theories surrounding his murder. In fact, the 2021 crime drama City of Lies, based on the non-fiction book LA Byrinth, claimed Knight funded the hit — and that the LA police helped carry it out and cover it up.

The Notorious BIG funeral procession to Brooklyn in March 1997.
The Notorious BIG funeral procession to Brooklyn in March 1997.

Kent and Biggie were taking separate cars en route to another Soul Train Awards after-party – this time hosted by Trackmasters producers Poke and Tone – when he was gunned down. “When the shots happened, I was on the other cross section,” he said. “And if you’re coming from New York and you hear gunshots, drive off. So we don’t know they’re shooting at his car. So we make it to the party and then my phone rings like, ‘Yo, your husband got shot.’ I just left the party and went straight to the hospital. It was bad news as soon as I got there.”

************************************************** ************

Easy Mo Bee recalls the last time he saw Biggie was when he and fellow Brooklyn hip-hop legend Jay-Z were in the studio working on the track “Life After Death.” “I love the dough.” They wrote the song in their heads,” he said of the two rappers, neither of whom ever wrote anything down. “And then he said to me, ‘Me and Jigga, we’re going to get out. We’ll be right back.’ Those were exactly his last words. And they went out, and it was too long before they came back. I waited until about 2am and then said to the engineers, ‘Let me know when the next meeting is.’ ”

sean "Swollen" Combs and the Notorious BIG
The Notorious BIG (right) performing with his mentor and friend Sean “Puffy” Combs in 1995.
Raymond Boyd

If he had survived, Biggie might have had the kind of opportunities and longevity that Jay-Z had. Sure, the two MCs pushed each other on the mic. “This was a time when the culture was opening up so much more to hip-hop and opportunities for these types of stars for whatever else they might have wanted to pursue, musically or otherwise,” said Light, who is now a co-host SiriusXM Volume is “controversial”.

“And that was done so soon and so early that you have to think about what else might be possible. I mean, certainly, when you look at Jay Z’s career – everything that’s progressed beyond music – you have to think, where could Biggie have gone with more time?”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/07/how-the-notorious-b-i-g-lives-on-25-years-after-his-murder/ How the Notorious BIG lives on 25 years after his assassination

Dais Johnston

USTimeToday is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimetoday.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button