We’re continuing our look at big men who have had an impact on history and popular culture in a variety of ways. We call them Notable Men of Size. You can read our 1st article, featuring President Theodore Roosevelt here. This week we move from politics to music, by featuring none other than Big Poppa himself, Christopher Wallace, The Notorious B.I.G.
Man of Many Names
Any notable man has to have a notable nickname. Apollo Creed proved that. The Notorious B.I.G. has that and more. In fact, B.I.G. has several: Big, Biggie, Biggie Smalls, Notorious, all names for one of the greatest rappers of all time. Some even say he’s the greatest. It’s only fitting that this larger than life figure could not be contained or represented by just one name. It is written: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and while you never want to argue with Shakespeare you have to admit that Big’s name is part of what made him, well you know… big.
Biggie Smalls is noted as one of the greatest lyricists of all times. But the thing that makes that even more impressive was the fact that the Notorious one never wrote his rhymes down! Biggie was all freestyle, coming up with some of the sickest verses at the moment, in his head!
“I’m seeing body after body and our mayor Giuliani / Ain’t tryna see no black man turn to John Gotti / My daughter use a potty so she’s older now / Educated street knowledge, I’mma mould her now”Straight fire!
According to close friend and protégé Lil’ Cease, Biggie was a notorious prankster. As Cease tells it to Vlad TV, Big took offense when members of his crew would fall asleep in the studio. Whoever did fall asleep was at Big’s mercy. The rap legend would place matches into the sleeping person’s hands then light it. Ouch… I heard of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” but that seems a bit extreme. But according to Lil’ Cease, it was just boys being boys. “We was just some kids. You know, you gotta think about it, Big was only 24 when he passed. But you know, we was all like 16 or 17 years old. We didn’t know how to act.”
King of Pop meets King of Hip Hop
It’s no secret that rap was not Michael Jackson’s go-to genre but when the King of Pop needed some Hip Hop flare on his 1995 single “This Time Around” who did he call? You guessed it. Brooklyn’s own Notorious B.I.G. When MJ calls you to collaborate you know you’re literally a Big deal.
Biggie Smalls influenced an entire generation when it came to music but what gets overlooked is that B.I.G also influenced an entire generation when it came to fashion. Kangol, COOGI, and Versace were staples in Biggies Notorious fashion game. Biggie even put Timberland boots on the map. Dudes in Brooklyn still rock Timberland hard because of B.I.G.
So there you have it The Notorious B.I.G. number one in the charts and number one in our hearts. His legacy both in and out of the studio will loom large for many more generations to come.