Today would have been Christopher Wallace’s 38th birthday. Obviously, B.I.G.’s murder thirteen years ago (THIRTEEN YEARS!!) robbed the world of an A-class rapper, someone who quite possibly could have gone on to be the greatest emcee of all time (not like Lil Wayne “Greatest Rapper Alive” hype talk…I mean, seriously) and someone who is still, with a 2-album body of work, is in my all-time Top Five. But it’s interesting to wonder what would have happened if B.I.G. had actually lived. Would he have fallen off? Would he have made the complete 180 and actually turned his life around? If there’s anything good about dying young, it’s that you don’t get the chance to tarnish your legacy. One need only look at Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg’s recent work to see what happens when you outstay your sell-by date.
I’m almost certainly biased because I was born in BK and spent 11 of my first 17 years on East 45th and Church Ave., but B.I.G. had a certain swagger that most emcees don’t have-and it seems to only really be present in emcees from Brooklyn. Kane has it. Jay has it. Kweli has it. Busta (even though he’s not *REALLY* from Brooklyn) has it. It’s an attitude in addition to a way with words (because the four dudes I just named are certainly among the 20 best who ever did it…I see a countdown or a poll coming). While Biggie was certainly not the type of dude I would have hung out with growing up (hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was actually robbed by a young Christopher Wallace as I was coming up), I still get a sense of pride when listening to this dude rhyme. Happy birthday, B.I.