Biggie Smalls is known to be the East coast rapper who started off as an underground rapper and grew to convert millions to the love of Hip-hop and stake a claim to the greatest of all time title.
Born to Jamaican immigrants, the “Who Shot Ya” rapper has had incredible influence on the culture of hip-hop long after his death. In memory of Christopher George Latore Wallace’s unfortunate death, it is important that we examine what really made him stand out from the crowd.
Brooklyn born and raised, the 24-year-old had great accomplishments before his untimely death in 1997. Identified as “a rapper’s rapper” he embodied the true essence of hip-hop. Abounding in swagger and unreserved confidence, Biggie deserved the self-given title of Big Poppa, as he championed a new era of hip-hop and inspired many rappers till today. Schooling his competition at the time, the best rappers on the scene including Nas, Jay-Z, Ice Cube and even LL Cool J all admitted Biggie was lightyears ahead of the pack.
Biggie’s unique lyricism formed the cornerstone of his musical ability. Armed with the gift of the garb, he was quick, witty and very calculated in his rhymes and the structured bars he became known for. Releasing impenetrable bars, many sang their praises on the talent of the lyrical mastermind. Able to spit rhymes, freestyling without much effort, he also went head to head with the best in rap battles with the outcomes almost always falling in his favor.
Years on, Biggie is still hailed as a legend. So what are the makings of a hip-hop great?
The ability to manipulate the English language to convey a message and evoke a feeling in a listener is vital to being a hip hop legend. Biggie personified the ultimate lyricist. Able to engage in a rap battle and outdo his opponent with spontenous and clever rhymes all the while able to freestyle to unfamiliar beats, B.I.G had a trained musical ear giving fans hard hitting lines delivering “flava in ya ear”.
Once a gangstar, Biggie was one who managed to crossover the art of hard grimey hip hop from the streets of Brooklyn to the white surburbs of America and eventually to the world. His content was raw and unabashed, touching on life of a hustler and the obstacles faced by the black man on the rise as chronicled in his track “Everyday Struggle”. His love for the finer things in life influenced popular culture. He altered how many viewed themselves, encouraging many to have ambition, drive always being on the grind. Dorning silk suits and smoking cuban cigars, The Don instilled in many the need to be proud of themselves and spew confidence, no matter their stature in life.
Just like in politics, the hiphop game was and still is run by money. To rap about fast cars and penthouse suites, a rapper must have the money to backup the bars in their tracks. Schooling newbies on hustling as a craft, he provides 10 tips for all running their business on street with the track “Ten Commandments.” During his career with the release of “Ready To Die”, later “Life After Death” and finally after his demise “Born Again,” Biggie Smallz has sold more than 17 million records within the United States. The successful release of his album “Born Again” 16 days after his death solidified his preeminence even beyond the grave. His success commands respect, affording him the title of “Greatest of All Time.”
Biggie made hiphop an art. Sharing his own take on the art form of rythme and ryhme; Frank White aka Biggie Smalls earned the respect of his peers just on his lyrical skills. Competing against many and collaborating with some like Busta Rythmes, LL Cool J and even Mary J. Blige; Smallz drew many to himself. Known to be quite the joker, he made light of difficult situations and had many reflecting on the state of society dropping knowledge with his notorious rap flow.
It is difficult to say if any of the current rappers will ever live up to the level of Notorious B.I.G.