I tend to get very irritated when people speak poorly of the dead.
Sure, you don’t have to like, or even understand what they may have accomplished during their time on this planet…be it music, art, political magnitude, etc., but respect is mandatory in my eyes. And in this case, you don’t have to like rap or hip hop to appreciate what an unnecessary loss today’s date represents for a community of individuals who have embraced the arts as part of who they are…and who they will become.
Today marks the 13 year anniversary of the loss and murder of Brooklyn-born Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. rapper The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie has always been one of my favorite artists, as well as a favorite in the industry. To this day, on any given night, at any given club around the world, one of his tracks can fill the room and without fail, the entire crowd will begin singing along…usually knowing every single word. There are no color boundaries, no religious debates…just contagious beats graced with delicious lyrics.
His music moved us…at a time when we needed to be moved.
His lyrics made us think…at a time when we needed a wake up call.
His music gave us a perspective on a lifestyle growing up that was far from glamorous. Drugs, violence, pain….yet somehow he allowed his passion for music to surpass anything else, he embraced his talents and managed to turn himself into a legend.
Since his death, his lyrics have been sampled and quoted by a variety of hip hop, R&B and pop artists including Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Nelly, Ja Rule, Lil Wayne, and Usher.
Biggie is celebrated as one of the greatest rap artists and is described by Allmusic as “the savior of East Coast hip-hop”. The Source and Blender named him the greatest rapper of all time. When XXL magazine asked several hip hop artists to list their five favorite MCs, Wallace’s name appeared on more rappers’ lists than anyone else. He was ranked at #3 in MTV’s The Greatest MC’s of All Time.
Biggie left behind a loving mother, a son, and a daughter. He was human. He did good. He did bad. He had flaws. He was just like the rest of us.
Yet I will forever admire his talents and catalog of work because he never hesitated to follow his heart and live for his passion in life. We are rare souls, those of us who throw caution to the wind and live with constant tunnel vision, knowing that eventually our reward is found in the ability to be living out our dreams.
“My son made himself a legend. My son worked hard and made himself what he was, and the legacy that he left behind, which was his music, he made that.” -Voletta Wallace