This past Friday, March 9th, marked the 15th anniversary of the seismic night in LA when anonymous assassins gunned down Biggie. Check out an exclusive mix to celebrate the charismatic Coogi-sweater wearing rhymer after the jump. | B.I.G. Tribute Art by Nick Schonberger for Complex Magazine
“Who shot ya? Mob ties like Sinatra.” This past Friday, March 9th, marked the 15th anniversary of the seismic night in LA when anonymous assassins gunned down Biggie. Last year, the investigation was reopened but the case remains unsolved, swirling with rumors of conspiracies and cover-ups within the LAPD.
But all that is ancillary. This is about the man’s music, a celebration of the King of New York and his charismatic command of the mic.
Mr. Cee, the longtime DJ for New York’s iconic Hot 97 radio station, helped introduce the world to Biggie by giving him his first airplay. It was only right that he tip his fitted towards the Notorious wordsmith by creating an exclusive three-part tribute to commemorate the occasion and his good friend.
Although it’s radio-edited to pass the Clear Channel filters of commercial radio, Mr. Cee’s mix still packs a cornucopia of illness.
Diverse tracks, remixes, deep cuts and candid stories make the three-hour offering a treat to listen to.
Voletta Wallace, Big’s mom, says at the beginning of part one that “he appreciated his station in life and the direction it was going.” On the other hand, she said “there were others, who I should use the hip-hop phrase ‘player haters’ to describe, who contributed to his paranoia.”
Undoubtedly these haters were responsible for spraying up his Suburban, squashing the dreams of a 24-year-old rap phenomenon.
Pardon the cliché, but imagine if he were still around today. Would he be at SXSW right now, mesmerizing the crowd with a live band backing him as he promotes his new indie album? Would he be clowning on Dancing With The Stars? Or would he take a more low-key approach and release records sporadically like Nas or Dr. Dre?
Despite his outsized persona and XXL Coogi sweater, Biggie was always an exceedingly humble dude.
The stories in Mr. Cee’s compilation confirm that humility.
Jadakiss, for example, talks about celebrating his 21st birthday uptown. He had run into Big in the studio and told him to come through earlier that night, but didn’t think Brooklyn’s Finest would actually make an appearance. Not only did Biggie stop by, but he bought bottles for everyone in the club. He made Jadakiss’s night, the icing on the cake for the Bad Boy young buck.
Lil’ Kim, Puffy, Styles P and countless others stop by too during the mix to show their love and reminisce.
It’s about his life and his music, even though the two are irrevocably intertwined.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always been more interested in his limber lyrics, but I side with Biggie in the inevitable coastal comparison with Pac. Is it because I’m from the East Coast and relish wordplay and gritty instrumentals? I don’t know. Regardless, I’ve always thought no one ever did it better than BK’s black Frank White.
What’s your favorite Biggie jam? Which iconic video brings you back? Let me know in the comment section below. “I Got A Story To Tell” always did it for me.
Download Mr. Cee’s joints here, and preview part 3 below.
And check out a fan-submitted visual tribute in Complex, which is where the image at the top comes from, here.