It’s All Good Baby, Baby!
Most times, we don’t realize how quickly time moves because we’re living in it. Today would have been Biggie’s 45th birthday. Though his voice, his music and his likeness are crystallized in time as this poised yet raw 20-something from Brooklyn, his influence knows no bounds. His murder eludes us all remaining unsolved and to this day, we’re still abuzz with speculation. Nonetheless, we can reach the consensus that he remains one of the greatest rappers to touch a mic.
His career blossomed in the ‘Golden Era’ of hip hop. A time when drug consumption, gang violence, and governmental corruption plagued the streets of our neighborhoods, hip hop told our stories. Biggie let us into his life sharing his stories of struggle, pain, joy and excitement. His lyrics followed simple rhyme schemes allowing us to share his gift of rhyme as we recited them back.
There is a Biggie track for any mood or emotion we may experience. “Suicidal Thoughts”, one of his more incendiary tracks, tackled the struggle of dealing with the pressures of life. Anxiety from not knowing who to trust, self doubt because of failures — unfortunately, not everyone can withstand the burden.
However, there were more records of gratitude and joy. Not just in regards to better financial standing, but also in how he recognized the power of his voice. Biggie Smalls lived candidly in his music and because of this, he connected with people from all over the country and around the world. This is clear with iconic tracks like “Big Poppa”, “Juicy” and my personal favorite, “Sky’s The Limit”
In understanding the impact of his music, what’s the deal with the new school trying to diminish it? On one hand, there’s a standard to uphold when donning the title of ‘rapper’. Biggie Smalls and many others set the bar on a certain rung that now, seems to be a touch too high for some. The comparisons between the ‘Golden Era’ and now often times get lost in translation because quite frankly, the parallel isn’t there. The importance, though, in respecting the ones before you is to realize that without him and others, there would be no hip hop now. The lanes that the artists who started hip hop created are still traveled today. They have expanded and reached new pinnacles when outsiders assumed it wouldn’t last.
In this new era of hip hop, the freedom to create in your own way carries less restraints. Nevertheless, we can’t forget the foundation upon which our music stands. With each passing decade, we have to fortify it and remember the power it holds. Biggie Smalls left us with stories that’ll transcend any boundaries of time. He was unabashed, honest and real. He was hip hop, personified.