In honor of the new Biggie movie coming out tomorrow – and presented in stark contrast to what looks to be a heart-warmingly revisionist biopic of one of my favorite rappers – I thought it would be nice post one of my favorite Biggie flows of all time.
Dead Wrong. This tune was Biggie’s foray into the extreme rap subgenre of horrorcore (although it was released posthumously). It’s one not liable to come up on the soundtrack for the movie, mainly because it’s one of the most violent and explicit lyrics ever recorded by a mainstream artist. I dig it for several reasons: 1. It is a great example of his expert rhyming skills – something you don’t really get on, say, Going Back to Cali as much; and 2. It highlights gangsta rap’s fantastical nature, to an extreme degree.
See, contrary to popular belief, gansta rappers don’t necessarily believe what they are writing/saying, they are in character. Christopher Wallace was the man and Notorious B.I.G was the fictional persona he created for himself. To many it may appear as if they must always wholeheartedly agree with said character for the mere fact that they are speaking it, but that is an incredibly simplistic way of viewing it. It would be similar to the absurdity of expecting every actor in a horror film to defend every one of their lines as if they themselves meant it.
When Ice-T wrote the controversial single Cop Killer and all of the politicians were up in arms, they simply could not fathom that Ice-T wasn’t advocating killing policeman, he was writing fiction. Yes, it was based on his frustration with the police, but that is how art works (unsurprisingly, Tipper Gore didn’t quite get this) – it is a personal expression, and sometimes a fantasy based on the root of that expression.
Biggie was a businessman, and in many ways cleaned up his act at times to achieve starhood, but he was also a raw talent, his heart was in the skill and craft of rhyming. Movies like Notorious will attempt to transform him into something ‘more’ – a symbol – but they neglect that, for the most part, art is not about the narrative, it is about the craft. I don’t care if Biggie slang crack or loved his Momma, that don’t mean shit to me. The tragedy of his death to me is that there will never be any new Biggie rhymes. That sucks. Luckily, his rhymes are rich enough that we can constantly find new appreciation in them, new ways of recontextualizing them. I’ve already done one Biggie remix, I’m sure I’ll produce more.