There was once a time I was determined to be the king of rap, hip-hop, or whatever you want to call it. I studied Jay-Z’s advancement, I used moves that 50 Cent perfected, and I worked diligently to make up for my deferred basketball dream. I believed that mainstream success was the only kind of success. After flirting with the rap star life, that flirt turned into a dissatisfying tease and I began floating around the independent world of hip-hop trying to find my way as my dude Torae hipped me to the gold mine that existed when you control your own content. One day I caught wind of an interview with Duck Down records legend Sean Price who basically said that if he had to stop rapping and work at Costco because of his financial obligations, he would be still be Sean Price…just working at Costco. I’m paraphrasing, but the whole point of his statement was that his family was worth more than his rep or his image. I had never experienced a love like that at the time. I was chasing fame more than anything.
The first time I saw the “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka” video I was an instant fan of OGC and Heltah Skeltah.I had heard Ruck and Rock on the “Cession at da Doghillee” and I eagerly anticipated their album.
But seeing Ruck’s charisma, his hilarious dance moves and effortless flow, he became a standout member of the collective. Even when Rock threw the fake Biggie off the stage in OGC’s “No Fear” video and B.I.G came at them on the early version of “Long Kiss Goodnight,” I didn’t stop wishing that my brethren from BK would leap into the same ocean of stardom that Bad Boy was swimming in.
It seemed destined for Duck Down to take a similar meteoric rise that the other labels like Roc-A-Fella and Deathrow were experiencing. Ruck and Rock’s first album was a stellar collection of hard beats, barbaric verses and a feel that was all its own. They were poised for greatness, and I was a witness. The whole crew came to perform at my college, Delaware State University and while we rapped in a cipher outside near their tour bus, Rock and Ruck jumped in and torched us all. I was hoping they would want to sign one of us, but it was a thrill to see them join in without flinching. Just the mere fact that they rapped with us without asking displayed humility and hunger. They were getting paid to grace a stage but they still had the desire to come spit with some students. I will never forget that. While my crew and I waved our Bucktown flags in school assured that Black Moon, Smif n Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and OGC were “next up,” something happened that we didn’t foresee. Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote this post almost a decade ago. It’s interesting to read where my head was back then. Recently a bunch of people have been celebrating the life of Christopher Wallace and every time his birthday or death anniversary rolls around I see the posts and specials and I think about his impact. Just seeing footage of the people outside his funeral stirs my soul.
At the age of 25 this man was a legend. With two albums under his belt, The Notorious B.I.G became an icon. But was he really the best that ever did it? Was my post premature, slightly inaccurate, or maybe just incomplete?
Has enough time passed that we can further analyze the factors that I presented and find fault in them? Or was Biggie simply just a product of his time running out before he could actually fall? I reread everything I wrote and after careful analysis I can safely say that I have evolved as a listener. The ears that didn’t mind “nigga” and “bitch” and admired the tricky use of wordplay to describe murder threats and sex acts are a bit older and more aware.
With that said I had to really take a look at my current playlists and see how many of my favorite rappers are in my rotation. And then that thought got quickly tossed out as I realized that I probably don’t even have my five top rated emcees in my phone. Although I did win some One Musicfest tickets last year by having Nas’ “Life’s a Bitch” in my phone when I was out at an after work function (I deleted all of the Nas catalogue out of my phone since then). Don’t feel bad Mr. Jones, Hov got erased as well… especially that Magna Carta thing. Some new Kanye exists, along with a couple of Marshall Mathers’ songs and even Tupac’s “So Many Tears” gets some spins. So what does that say about who I believe is the greatest of all time? I still believe Biggie provided the greatest influence on this generation of rap artists. I still count all of the factors I mentioned as reasons that he ruled way beyond his passing. But I have to admit that at some point there will be a new crown holder. While Jay-Z ran the table for years, his last few efforts including the throne watching collaboration could have truly placed him in an untouchable position if those projects were outstanding.
So allow me to repost this, feel free to skim through it and in a few days I will revisit this idea and take a look at a few other candidates. Read the rest of this entry »