March 9th, 1997 I was in my garage cutting a friends hair when my neighbor came over and asked me if I had heard the news. I stopped the clippers to turn the radio on to hear this unbelievable story for myself. The anticipation of his new album was already growing, and to hear of his death on that afternoon was a blow to my brain.
I can remember being a young kid at 13 years old, listening to Ready to Die in my bedroom. I wasn’t supposed to be listening to that record, but I did because I was drawn to Biggie and his story telling. I felt like when I was listening to KRS-1 rap about selling dope in “Loves Gonna Get’cha” or Ice Cube in “Once Upon a Time in the Projects” or even Sick Rick in “Children’s Story” but for me, something about BIG rapping was much more vivid. I actually felt as if I was there, in the Brookly streets and on the subway. My love for Big and his music was so personal, I remember getting into arguments with my younger brother about his lyrics. “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis…” was the lyric, my brother swear he was saying something else but I knew exactly what he was saying, and I would defend that in any way that I could.
Listening to Big’s album after he passed away was an unreal experience. I was blown away by “Life After Death” and even more so, I was thoroughly impressed with “Ten Crack Commandments” for again the full layout of the rules to the crack game. But of course “I Got A Story To Tell” was my absolute favorite and I listened to it over and over again. To this day he still has us wondering which one of the 6”5” Knicks it could have been, although John Starks says he will never tell.
See, big gave me that vision and confidence in his rhymes, and no one can take that away from me. Long live Notorious.
Original artwork by Vincent Diaz.
The Notorious Biggie Tribute March 10th with The Waxaholics at Alley Kat Lounge. 3718 Main, 8pm.