20 years ago today we lost one of the most prolific rappers in the history of the genre, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls. Three years prior to his untimely demise, I was one of the first journalists to interview him. It went down the night before his debut album Ready To Die hit the charts, hours before his debut performance at Glam Slam West, Prince’s downtown L.A. hotspot in the 90’s.
I’m posting this article in honor and tribute to this fallen soldier. I can easily say that Biggie was the most humble rapper I’ve ever interviewed. After we finished our formal interview session and the recorders were off, Biggie said to me, “I hope people like my album.” I looked him straight in the eye and said “dude, people love you!” “Ain’t no guarantees in life,” he shot back, “if this shit don’t jump off, I’ll be back on the streets hustling tomorrow.”
I think you will see a side of Biggie in this interview that most people didn’t see during his short tenure as the king of rap. That’s the reason why I put up a picture of the brother smiling. He had reason to be mad muggin’ all the time, but he also had reasons to smile.
Wait until you read the article. I’m sharing this remnant of the past, before the Internet forced me to go back and get my hustle on the streets. I hope you enjoy, comment and share. Blessings to you all…
Click below to open the PDF:
P.S. I know I’ve been off the radar for a while (I was supposed to go to Europe, but the funding didn’t come through), but I’m working on a new project that I pray will be in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots on April 29th. Details coming soon!!!
It’s a big day for me. My online class is up for the offering. It starts October 25th. I’m in the middle of preparing the syllabus and I think that it will be an interesting course for anyone who writes creative nonfiction. It will be nice to teach again; it’s been over ten years since I’ve been in a classroom. The major difference is that this is a virtual classroom. The coolest thing about online education is that you show up to class when it’s convenient for you. As long as you meet your deadlines and participate in the discussions, you’re okay. I did it for two years of grad school, so I’m really looking forward to the experience being the online instructor this time.
Also today, the official announcement goes out that I am an assistant editor at the online literary journal Drunk Monkeys. At last! I’ve broken the digital barrier and now I’m writing for an online magazine. It seems like this blog came just in the nick of time, to chronicle the bridging of the gap between where I left off twelve years ago in my career, and now. I made a little money in between working in the film industry, but somehow the appeal of being a near broke starving artist, working for pennies and cred, is alluring. The feeling is always “this is going to lead to something great!” In the meantime, I’m wondering if they’re gonna turn off the lights because my payment arrangement is a few days late. There’s a sick thrill in relishing in these types of opportunities. I’ve lived with the same kind of hunger since my first article was published in 1991.
I didn’t know where my literary efforts would lead me, but I did it again and again, and man did I have some memories behind a lot of those articles and encounters: interviewing Notorious B.I.G. the night before his first album Ready To Die dropped, snapping photos of Tupac performing at the record release party for 2Pacalypse Now, his first album, interviewing the entire Wu-Tang Clan, to name a few. I was broke, but happy. My grandfather told me back then, as long as you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food to eat, you’re doing alright. I’m still doing alright, and my sons seem to be pretty happy when they’re at my apartment playing on the Xbox and eating homemade ice cream.
It’s a hustle to keep this dream alive and make it grow in the process. The digital age is still a new landscape to me. I’ve peeped it out through virtual binoculars and I can’t even see the horizon, which means that there is plenty of ground to build these dreams into realities, just like the artists I knew in the analog age, some who didn’t make it this far. Their inspiration and belief in the hustle gives me reason to keep reinventing the hunger that I felt back then and use it to feed the muse.