If Biggie Were Still Here….

It’s the 21st of May 2010 and this morning I found myself sat watching Dirty Money‘s “Hello Good Morning” video on TV. It was a bit early for me to be watching a video with such glitz, pizzazz and all the bells and whistles which normally accompany any video by Puffy (I was born in the mid ‘80s so he’ll always be Puff to me), but it was that train of thought which reminded me that today’s date marks the birthday of his late great friend and rapper, the Notorious B.I.G.

This led to a number of thoughts – what would B.I.G make of Diddy’s excessive explosions, fireworks and big beats? Would he have been on board? Would the Bed-Stuy lyricist have even still been on speaking terms with the Bad Boy exec? I’ve now gone on to think of what other scenarios may have occurred if the King of NY was still tearing down mics in the year 2010…

1. Would Biggie Still Be On Bad Boy Records?

I feel that B.I.G’s short life span would also equal to his tolerance for the shiny suit era which Puff Daddy was ushering in during the late ‘90s. Yes, the two were the closest of friends – almost inseparable – but Biggie’s hardcore lyrics weren’t just for show – they reflected his previous way of life.

Biggie Smalls was the voice of one of the roughest areas in New York and whilst Puffy understood and helped him to get this across, the former Uptown executive had bigger plans (as you can see with some of today’s ventures) plans which I feel Big wouldn’t have been down with. Just like The LOX, Lil’ Kim and many others – I feel Biggie would have departed from Bad Boy (maybe not as controversially as some) possibly hooking up with Jay and the gang at Rocafella Records.

2. How Relevant Would Biggie Be In The Hip Hop World Today?

Biggie would most certainly have been a name which remained strong in the new millennium. Considering that his flossed out, Versace style of rap is still channeled in a majority of rappers today, he would have been the Don Corleone to many of today’s Michael Corleone’s and Vincent Mancini’s. Would his rap style have evolved? Quite possibly. Looking at the progression made between Ready To Die and Life After Death, there’s no telling how far Frank White’s lyrical dexterity could have risen. Even during the recent Southern/Midwest/whatever region you wanna mention upheaval, Biggie could have still rocked with the Lil’ Waynes, T.I.s and Drakes of today. Just think back to his performance on “Notorious Thugs” and you can see just how ready he was to change it up at any given time.

3. Could Biggie Have Put Out Another Classic Album?

In my opinion (and this view is often contested) Biggie topped Ready To Die with Life After Death – which by all means wasn’t an easy feat – but to drop an album which would shatter a double disc album filled with some of the greatest storytelling of all time? It’s very unlikely. But that wouldn’t have stopped B.I.G. from dropping more fire, especially if you can think of the collaborations and producers with whom he could have worked with (Dr Dre post Death Row days, Kanye West, Just Blaze, 50 Cent). I also think a mixtape – Biggie could have been phenomenal in this period.

4. How Would The Biggie/2Pac Beef Resolve? (If It Didn’t Result In Their Deaths)

A question so hard to answer because (a) both are deceased and (b) because of the utmost hatred which 2pac (seemingly) had for Biggie – which in all, poured gas on the fire that eventually lead to their deaths. Nevertheless amidst, all the chaos and controversy surrounding their beefs it became apparent that 2pac wanted out of Death Row, which I believe was the machine which instigated this rivalry.

Had ‘Pac left Death Row, I believe his focus would have returned to music – not Biggie, and his output would have remained consistent as his work ethic, still to this day, remains unmatched. The relationship between the two would have remained strained, with the odd jab thrown between the two on verses – but I believe whilst B.I.G seemed destined to remain in rap for good, 2Pac would eventually venture into the movies full time, maybe retiring from the rap game (on more than one occassion a la Jay-Z and others). It’s quite hard to think if their former friendship could ever have been resolved, but due to the politics, greedy individuals and proprietors who feel they were “only selling magazines” this is something which can never be discovered.

5. Would Biggie Still Be The King of N.Y?

Beefs, drama and controversy have all been generated from this so-called “title”. When Christopher Wallace was gunned down and pronounced dead on March 9th, it also marked his coronation as king of the city. If Biggie had survived or avoided the shooting altogether, would he still be declared as King in the new millenuim?

It really depends on the question of whether he would have been able to match or better Jay-Z line-for-line and album-for-album from ’97 to today. I’m not saying Jay is currently king by any means (that title really is pointless when the biggest artist today is from Canada) but in order to gauge whether B.I.G would have had the credentials to hold on to the title, you have to look at the guy who comes closest to matching him; and with their trade-off on the classic “Brooklyn’s Finest” on Jay’s Reasonable Doubt, it really is close.

I felt that in order for Jay-Z to shine like he has done so, a big mountain had to be moved – and there was none bigger than Biggie Smalls. B.I.G had charisma, charm, sex appeal (*shudders*) and a delivery which set fire to anyone rapping alongside or against him. Looking just at their two collaborations on “Brooklyn…” and “I Love The Dough” it seems that whilst Jay did step up to the plate, Biggie was always one or two steps ahead. Some may say this shouldn’t even be questioned, others say death instantly makes you a legend. But I believe that if Biggie Smalls was on this earth today, he’d still easily be the King of New York, period.

–Henry Yanney

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