The Notorious B.I.G. captivated everybody he came into contact with, his illuminating rhymes and rhythms straight from the streets of Brooklyn, spread across the globe like wildfire. He took hip-hop to dizzying new heights, his arrival coinciding with the genre’s takeover of popular culture, and his favourite rapper of all time is a fellow New York native who walked so he could run.
The dynamic way that Biggie managed to assert his personality in his work made him an irresistible figure and a colourful character that demanded adoration. He grew up when hip hop had just entered its ascendency, and there was one person he grew up hero-worshipping, an artist who would become a close friend and support him from the early days.
Sadly, with Biggie, his death is often talked about more than his life. Naturally, that topic dominates conversation due to the almost unbelievable list of achievements that he managed to cram into his short 24-years on this planet. While most rappers are yet to hit their stride at that age, Biggie may have only had two albums under his belt, but both are now considered to be some of hip-hops greatest creations.
In the decades after his death, countless documentaries have been released about the rapper, and Netflix’s Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, provides a fascinating insight into the man behind the mic. His childhood friend, C Cutta, talks about growing up with Smalls and how their shared love of hip-hop dominated everything they did together. “On the block, on Fulton Street, where we were all hanging out, kicking it, we were like fake hip-hop analysts,” C Cutta remembered. “We would sit there and have debates all day.”
“Each one of us had our favourite rapper,” he added. “My favourite was KRS-One. [Olie]’s favourite was Rakim. Big’s favourite was Big Daddy Kane. We would always analyse somebody’s flow, their rhymes, and all of that.”
In 1995, Biggie was riding high after his debut album, and the opportunity presented to perform with his hero at Madison Square Garden alongside Tupac. Smalls won the respect of his idol, and Big Daddy Kane became someone he’d call a friend.
Speaking to B High T.V. earlier this year, Big Daddy elaborated on his love for Biggie in candid terms. “Biggie was dope, man,” he told the Atlanta based channel. “He was incredible, and he was a funny dude. His personality would have took him to Hollywood, as well, ‘cos I mean, he was a funny dude, man.”
Kane added: “Not only that, but listening to his progression from ‘Party and B.S.’ up to his last album, and how his skills advanced so fast. I think he was probably on his way to becoming the best MC ever. I really think he was on his way to becoming that but they took him away from us too early.”
If you have got five minutes to kill, then you won’t find a better use of your time than listening to the audio of Biggie, Tupac, Scoop, Shyhiem, and Biggy Daddy Kane spitting fire at MSG.