Life With B.I.G.

Only make moves when your heart’s in it
And live the phrase, Sky’s the limit…

My experience with the Notorious B.I.G. is probably no different than any other kid who grew up in New York City circa ’95. Now 14 years after his life was cut short, I wanted to take time to reflect on Christopher Wallace, and how his life has left an enormous footprint on a generation while inspiring the next one. Here’s a timeline of my life with the Notorious.

1995: Flava In Ya Ear
I remember listening to Hot 97’s summer countdown, with a tape on deck so I could record my favorite songs. “Bad boy, come out and play…” A new artist with nasal congested swagger captured my attention, even on a track with Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes, and LL Cool J.

1995- Ready To Die released
Pictures from Right On! and Black Beat covered my bedroom walls. Posters of Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, and Aaliyah, were brought to life with the One More Chance clip. Such inappropriate lyrics for a twelve year old, but I knew them line for line. I remember talking to my granduncle about the importance of Ready To Die, how songs like “Juicy” inspired me. That it was to me what Miles Davis Black and Blue was to him.

1996- “The East Coast don’t have love for the West Coast?”- Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg took the stage at the Source Awards, dousing the East Coast West Coast war with gasoline that would eventually cost us two of rap’s finest. Diss records followed, as Tupac aimed fire at Faith Evans and the paternity of their unborn son.

September 13, 1996
Tupac is gunned down. When he died, I had the eerie feeling that B.I.G. would be killed. The war had spiraled out of control, and no sympathy could save B.I.G. from being inevitably marked.

March 9, 1997
I turned on Hot 97 to an inconsolable Angie Martinez. B.I.G. was killed the night before in California. The air was knocked out of friends and every hip hop fan in NY.

2009: “What was it like when Biggie died? Why did he get shot?”
I use B.I.G’s “Sky’s The Limit” as a teaching tool with my fifth grade students. Song lyrics are a great way to help with fluency as they read to the rhythm. And they clearly understand the meaning behind the words. When they ask what it was like when B.I.G. died, I tell them that there was lots of sadness, and we’ll never know the why’s. But I also tell them, on the day of B.I.G’.s funeral, Brooklyn partied. Fans filled the streets as B.I.G.’s procession toured through his streets.

September 13, 2010- Yankee Stadium: “I had to bring my brother with me.”
At Jay-Z and Eminem’s Home And Home tour, Jay turned down the lights and B.I.G.’s image shined on the jumbotrons. As his voice blared, it was one of the moments I’ll never forget.

To boardrooms, classrooms, and stages. To courtrooms and on the basketball court. To wedding receptions, parties. Internationally and on the streets of Brooklyn.

We take you with us.

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