"Notoriously Overrated: What was so Big about Biggie Smalls?"
by Minister Paul Scott distasteful and totally missing the point. While I consider
Min. Paul Scott a good brother and a friend, I do not agree with his opinion of
The Notorious B.I.G.
"Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one, and most of them stink!"
Here's my take on why "Biggie Smalls" was BIG:
It is not fair to compare the story of Biggie Smalls to the story of Fred
Hampton. It's not even like comparing apples and oranges (they are both
fruit), It's flat out wrong to try to compare rappers to revolutionary activists
and leaders. Rappers, athletes and other entertainers are too often cited
as role models by members of the media who somehow believe because
people cheer for them while being entertained, it somehow magically
transforms individuals into heroes and someone to be imitated or admired off stage.
This new form of idol worship is a distortion of reality, basically setting
artists up for a long fall after building them up to the top as celebrities
who are morally and culturally un-vetted. Marketing and promotions brings us
capitalism at it's best (or should I say Worst?).
Rappers are more like actors who play a character or role, for Minister Paul
Scott to suggest that he knew Christopher Wallace as a person because he
listened to his music or saw his videos is inaccurate. If you did not know him
personally, you don't know any more about him than you know Al Pacino after
watching Scarface. No one judges California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
by the roles that he played as a Hollywood actor.
What is it about rapping the words that makes Biggie's artistic
contributions to pop culture less relevant than the cold hard stories of
the streets written by Donald Goines? The Notorious B.I.G. was a great writer
and story teller with a lyrical flow and swagger that in my opinion has earned
Christopher Wallace an indisputable place among the "Greatest Rappers Of
All Time" in spite of the fact that (as Davey D reminds us) his "body of works"
is very limited due to his un-timely death.
Lest we forget, Christopher Wallace was manipulated and exploited by the
corrupt system that is the music industry and the entertainment industry in
general. Much in the same way that Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Michael
Jordan, Elvis, Britney Spears and most artists that you ever heard of is
exploited and used. Industry executives are just as accountable for the
content of negative lyrics as the artists that they sponsor and exploit.
The artist is the low man on the totem pole who's carcass is free for the
picking by sleazy buzzards known as managers, promoters, producers, record
labels, booking agents, lawyers, magazines, television shows, radio stations
and the like. They could care less about the poor slobs that they shine
their lights on or the victims of the negative imagery as long as they make money.
In fact, radio stations and magazines fanned the flames between Tupac and
Biggie's so called East Coast VS West Coast beef to the point that I
consider them accomplices to both of their murders. It was a media feeding
frenzy that fed into America's blood lust that encourages drug use,
violence, misogyny, homo-phobia, racism and other distractions that *did not
begin with Hip-hop and won't end with it*. Love it or hate it, the things
that Biggie rapped about are as American as apple pie.
We have built rappers up with so much "keep it real" bull-crap to the point
that their rapping skills have less to do with their success in the industry
than their "Rap Sheets". What do you have to do to maintain street
credibility when 50 Cent himself (9 bullets in his body and all) has to
keep disrespecting people and calling out other rappers to maintain
controversy and remain relevancy in the eyes of the media who then transmit
the concepts to the record buying public.
We need to bring the unrealistic expectations that have been placed on
entertainers into perspective. They are cool, they sound great, they are
great to watch on TV, but I am qualified to say that most of what you see on
TV is fake as hell and should be exposed as such. We should take the time to
educate people about the multi-media brainwashing that has taken place that has
so many of our young people convinced that being a drug dealer, thug,
criminal in general or even a murderer is something to aspire to be.
Christopher Wallace was a talented writer who was murdered in his prime, a
man who deserves respect as an artist and as a human being. He is not
overrated as an artist and we will never know what kind of man he could have
turned out to be. Imagine if Detroit Red had been murdered before reaching his
potential of becoming Malcolm X.
We have to apply critical thinking to all media that we consume as well as
the media that we allow our children to consume. Keep entertainment and
media in perspective. It's O.K. to be entertained, but in the ironic immortal
words of Flavor Flav "Don't believe the hype".
Get beyond complaining about the messages in the industry, do something
about it, organize, be active, support conscious artists, create your own
positive media, don't just disrespect the memory of a beloved father, friend
and artist. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", none of us are perfect.
As a Minister (Paul Scott) the words "Judge not lest ye be judged" should
resonate with you. We owe the hundreds of potential Biggies and Tupac's
who are currently still in the industry and the millions of them on the streets
all over the world more than rants of "Pull Up your Pants". The conditions
that exist in our communities are not just the results of negativity and criminal
elements, but the lack of involvement by intellectuals, men of God and positive
I wonder how the story would have turned out had the conscious community, black
churches, and revolutionaries had organized together and bailed out Tupac Shakur
rather than Suge Knight.
Rest in Peace Christopher "Biggie" Wallace, only God can judge you now.