Footage of the late Craig Mack dropping his trademark “fat funk flav” at London’s Hammersmith Palais in March 1995.
Footage of the late Craig Mack dropping his trademark “fat funk flav” at London’s Hammersmith Palais in March 1995.
Documentary highlighting the story of Strong Island’s Craig Mack, including the making of the classic 1994 single “Flava In Ya Ear”, with appearances from Easy Mo Bee, EPMD, K-Solo and more.
Although Puffy and Bad Boy Records might have divided opinions within the Hip-Hop community during the 90s and into the early-2000s as the gap between underground and mainstream grew ever-wider, it can’t be said that the team of producers who laced tracks for the likes of Biggie, Black Rob and The Lox didn’t know a dope sample when they heard one.
Here, Frank The Butcher and DJ 7L dust off the original breaks from the likes of Mtume, Herbie Hancock, Mary Jane Girls and more that, love it or hate it, supplied the sonic foundations for many a Bad Boy single, album track and remix.
Mr. Owen gives the remix treatment to one of the tracks he originally produced on Biggie’s classic 1994 debut “Ready To Die” – get the background story here.
Inspired by the recent March 9th anniversary of Biggie’s untimely death, Detroit’s House Shoes enlisted the help of fellow producers Nottz, 14KT, Waajeed and more to remix a selection of Notorious classics including “Kick In The Door”, “The What” and “One More Chance” – download here.
With it being sixteen years today since the untimely 1997 passing of Biggie Smalls, Radio One’s Tim Westwood has dug in his vaults for footage of the BK legend’s 1995 London performance at Hammersmith Palais alongside Puffy.
Aasim – “Outlaw Rap” (@AasimSocialClub / 2011)
Taken from the NY emcee’s forthcoming mixtape “F**k The Industry”.
Aasim – “Never” (AasimSocialClub.Com / 2011)
The NY rapper addresses his former label situation with Bad Boy on this soulful cut from his recent mixtape “The Money Pit 3” – Puffy definitely dropped the ball not pushing this dude properly as he had talent then and still has it now.
Former Bad Boy artist G. Dep speaks openly about the ups and downs of his career so far.
Trailer for Cookin’ Soul’s recent Halloween-themed Biggie mixtape.
The late, great Biggie Smalls rips it at his 1993 birthday party alongside Puffy, Lord Finesse, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Mr. Cheeks.
Producer D-Dot discusses working on Biggie’s “Life After Death” album.
On the verge of the Bad Boy explosion, Biggie and Craig Mack perform at 1994’s Jack The Rapper music convention – captured by Connecticut cable show Lorna’s Corner.
Biggie Smalls – “Unbelievable”
Craig Mack – “Flava In Ya Ear”
Producer Jesse West uses his experience gained from working with the likes of The GZA, KRS-One and Positive K to explain some secrets of sampling in his own unique, unhinged style.
New York’s DJ Soul has dug into his vaults and pulled out this dope old-school party mix from 2005 put together at the request of Puffy who was looking for some quality holiday headphone material (to bump on his yacht no doubt).
Download the mix here and then check below for tracklisting and some words from Soul himself.
1. The Family “Screams Of Passion”
2. Loose Ends “Hangin’ On A String”
3. New Edition “A Little Bit Of Love”
4. Stephanie Mills “You Put A Rush On Me”
5. Guy “I Like”
6. Run DMC “Sucker MC’s”
7. Stetsasonic “Go Stetsa”
8. Doug E. Fresh “The Original Human Beat Box”
9. Treacherous Three “Feel The Heartbeat”
10. T-Ski Valley “Catch The Beat”
11. Bernard Wright “Who Do You Love”
12. Nu Shooz “I Can’t Wait”
13. Sweet G “Games People Play”
14. Steve Arrington “Weak In The Knees”
15. Orange Krush “Action”
16. Mt. Airy Groove “Pieces Of A Dream”
17. Grace Jones “Pull Up To My Bumper”
18. Blondie “Rapture”
19. Grandmaster Flash “Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash”
20. Queen “Another One Bites The Dust”
21. Indeep “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”
22. Skyy “High”
23. Bob Scaggs “Lowdown”
24. Chaka Khan “I Know You, I Live You”
25. Stevie Wonder “Do I Do”
DJ Soul: “Back in 2005, while I was spinnin The CFDA Awards after-party at Bungalow 8, someone from Bad Boy approached me and told me that Diddy wanted a mixtape of what I was spinnin that night. I found it kind of weird because I had played his CFDA Awards after-party a year earlier at Marquee and got a bad review (I think it was because I was wearing a Ralph Lauren Polo T-Shirt). Anyhow, a few weeks later I got a call from Bad Boy requesting for the mix again cuz Diddy was in St Tropez and wanted something to listen to. Later that night I linked up with El Saeso at La Esquina and we ran over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn to the Manhattan Bridge and back into the city. This was my first case of catching a runner’s high and I couldn’t go to sleep. What I did instead was record this. Enjoy…”
With today being the eleventh anniversary of Biggie’s untimely death, I thought I’d post up this interview I did with his mother at the end of 2005 to coincide with the release of Bad Boy’s “Duets – The Final Chapter” album.
What do you say to someone who has lost a close loved one? It’s a delicate situation that so many of us are familiar with. Even though it’s been nine years since Voletta Wallace lost her son The Notorious B.I.G. in a tragic Los Angeles drive-by shooting, it’s still a question I ask myself as I wait to be connected via transatlantic phone-line to the mother of arguably the greatest rapper of all-time. To us, the listeners, Biggie Smalls was the cocky-yet-likeable Brooklyn hustler who put East Coast rap back on the map with the lyrical genius and cinematic scope of his classic 1994 debut album, “Ready To Die”. But to Mrs. Wallace, there was simply Christopher, her only child. A young man who played music too loud in his bedroom and kept her up worrying late at night when he didn’t come home, but who ultimately made her proud with his success in the music industry.
There’s a genuine warmth in Mrs. Wallace’s voice when she speaks, but also a sense of purpose that clearly indicates you’re talking to a strong and determined woman. She’s had to be. While the dramatic soap opera of events surrounding the death of Biggie has inspired endless debates between journalists, gossips and fans alike (the East Coast / West Coast rivalry, Biggie’s feud with former friend 2Pac, Bad Boy’s alleged links with LA street gangs), Mrs. Wallace has had to deal with the loss of her son in the unforgiving glare of the public spotlight, while also working hard to bring those responsible to justice. Last summer a U.S. District Court judge ruled that individuals within the Los Angeles police department had covered-up evidence during the initial investigation into the rapper’s murder. That breakthrough decision now allows Mrs. Wallace and her legal team to go back into court with a more robust and informed case that could very well produce the verdict she’s been hoping for all these years.
But in the meantime Voletta Wallace has been busy alongside P. Diddy and a slew of big-name artists and producers, piecing together the last episode of her son’s musical legacy, “The Notorious B.I.G. : Duets – The Final Chapter”. A star-studded collection featuring the likes of Eminem, Fat Joe and The Game, “Duets” succeeds where its predecessor, 1999’s “Born Again”, largely failed, managing for the most part to marry old Biggie verses with contemporary production and guests that compliment the Black Frank White’s artistic greatness. But if, in Puffy’s words, “Duets” finds us “at the end of the road in terms of original releases for a great, great man”, perhaps 2006 will also be the year that sees Mrs. Wallace at the end of her own struggle to bring closure to the death of her much-loved son.
Was there a particular moment when you first realised that Biggie was pursuing a career as a rap artist?
I first really became aware of it when I heard his voice on the radio. But it wasn’t until I heard “Juicy” in its entirety that I realised he was going to become an artist and be good at what he did. I was privileged to be at the video shoot for that single and when I heard the words to the song I knew right then my son was going to be a successful talent. Before that when my son was at home in his room all I ever thought he was doing was just playing noise (laughs). I didn’t really understand the language and all I could hear was a beat banging. But when “Juicy” went gold I saw in Christopher’s eyes how happy he was so I knew that was an achievement for him. But me? I had my life and his life was his life. His profession was his and I never made it a part of my life because I wasn’t really educated in the field of rap. I really didn’t understand it. I just saw that it made Christopher happy but I didn’t feel it was my prerogative to be a big part of what he was doing at the time and I don’t feel guilty about that either.
When you started to become more involved in Biggie’s music after he passed away, did it surprise you how much of an impact your son had made on the world?
It sure did. Just recently we were on tour to support this new Biggie album and just the love that was being shown for my son and also to me was amazing. People were thanking me for my son and for what he’d contributed to their lives through his music. It’s in situations like that when I truly see the impact my son had on the world. It’s eerie though because he’s not here to receive all those accolades. But although I might not have known back when he started-out exactly how much he was appreciated by fans, I definitely know now.
Aside from his music, I think what also endeared Biggie to so many people was the fact that whenever you heard or saw him in interview he always came across as a humble, down to earth individual who was extremely grateful for the position he found himself in.
That is absolutely right and what you’ve just said there to me sums up Christopher. That is exactly how he was. When he went onstage he was the artist, The Notorious B.I.G., but when it came down to dealing with people he was Christopher Wallace. He had such a beautiful heart. When people talked to him they didn’t feel like they were talking to a star, they felt like they were talking to a friend because my son gave love and showed respect. That’s the person I knew.
I read in a previous interview that there were certain artists you personally wanted involved in the “Duets” project such as Jay-Z and 2Pac. Why was it so important to have those artists on the album?
Well firstly, Jay-Z was one of my son’s very best friends. They hung out and did a lot of things together. They were like brothers. Unfortunately Jay-Z couldn’t be on the last album (“Born Again”) because it was a little bit too emotional for him. So he promised me that when the next project was ready to begin he would be a part of it. As for 2Pac, his mother Afeni and I have had a relationship for some time. She asked me for Christopher’s work (during the recording of 2Pac’s “Resurrection” project) and I said, ‘Okay, we’ll swap. You do for me and I’ll do for you.’ We have a lot in common with each other.
And Bob Marley?
Even when my son was alive I wanted him to do something with Bob Marley’s music but unfortunately it didn’t happen. But I wanted to do it for the new album because I feel that my son is to rap what Bob Marley is to reggae and to hear them on the same song is so special, not just for me but also for Caribbean culture and for those who grew up with that as a part of their lives. Obviously Faith had to be on the record and also R. Kelly, whom my son had a wonderful relationship with. They’re all people that I wanted involved in the project and thankfully they graced us with a lot of love. I didn’t want this to be an album that was just thrown together purely for dollars and cents. I wanted to be involved in it and to do things that both my son would have wanted and that the people wanted to hear. I really wanted the album to be something great that had a real sense of energy to it.
After reading and hearing what so many other people have had to say about your son in the years since his death it must have been quite a therapeutic experience for you to write your own book recently?
See, no-one really knew Christopher Wallace. I knew Christopher Wallace. There are so many books and documentaries out there and such a misconception about rappers and where they come from and what they’re out there doing. I needed to tell the world about Voletta Wallace and my son Christopher Wallace, not The Notorious B.I.G.. That’s really what my book is about.
Do you find it difficult to deal with some of the less savoury comments the media have made about your son?
Well when I see and read certain things believe it or not I do cry and also I often cringe because the person they’re writing about is not the person I knew. I never knew that person and I mean that from my heart. Sometimes when I read what people have written it’s like they want me to hate my son, but I’m not going to because in my heart I know who Christopher was and my love will always be there for him and my memory of him will always be a happy one. So yes, it hurts sometimes but I just focus on the good memories I have. I don’t blame the media though because they’re just doing their job, but at the same time they should know that there was another side to my son and as his mother only I can really tell people about that side.
Are you optimistic that the new trial will bring the guilty verdict you’ve been hoping for and why do you think it’s taken so long for the case to reach this point?
I’m very optimistic based on what information came out of the last trial. Justice will be served, I’ll have my day in court and the murderer, plus those behind the murderer, will be exposed and I hope suitably punished for what they did. It’s taken so long to get to this point because there’s been a big conspiracy and a big cover-up. I’m sure the powers-that-be saw me as just a simple little mother and school teacher who didn’t know much about the law and there I am going up against the whole Los Angeles police department. So they’re going to hide things and think that I’m naive enough to just walk away. But my son and best friend was murdered so I can’t walk away. There were hidden facts surrounding the case that certain people didn’t want exposed, but now they will be. They tried their very best to portray what happened to my son as something other than what it was. If they could portray it as being part of a rap war between the East Coast and the West Coast then everyone would point the finger of blame elsewhere. But some of the truth is now out and the rest will come.
Initially when you decided to pursue legal action did you find the immensity of the situation a daunting prospect?
No because when it comes to right and wrong the size of a situation doesn’t come into it. When I took on the case I didn’t really see it as me taking on a whole institution. I just knew that something had gone wrong and I needed to expose it. I didn’t look at it any other way. When you’re a murderer, you’re a murderer. Death doesn’t come in size. This is just something that had to be done. In a situation like this you have to stay strong, never look behind you and just know that you’re doing the right thing.
Given that the Hip-Hop media are always very keen to pay tribute to those who’ve been lost in tragic and violent circumstances, such as Biggie, 2Pac and Jam Master Jay, does it frustrate you when you then see magazines sensationalising rivalries and beefs between rap artists?
The murders of the young men you just mentioned have nothing to with Hip-Hop. It comes down to humans killing humans. A rapper is not killing another rapper. What I do see blighting Hip-Hop though is the fact that many of the young men involved in making this music are focusing less on the culture as a whole and more on their own egos. There’s a self-centred, selfish feeling running through Hip-Hop right now with artists being more interested in the size of their homes and cars than their lives and what is going on around them. The music industry is feeding this and it’s taking away from the beauty of Hip-Hop culture which is very sad.
Biggie still has a huge presence within the Hip-Hop world today. What would you like younger listeners to take away from his life, career and music?
I would like younger artists listening to my son’s music to understand how much he enjoyed his work and that he did it because he loved it and that he also viewed rhyming as an artform. Young listeners today need to know that whatever career they might venture into they have to love their work because that’s how they’ll become great at it. That’s how my son became a legend.
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” (Bad Boy / 1994)
1996 Jay-Z / Biggie Performance In NYC
1997 Wake-Up Show Freestyle
Having worked with the likes of Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes, the legendary Easy Mo Bee recalls how he helped kick-start the career of Biggie Smalls by producing the rap icon’s debut single, featured on the 1993 film soundtrack “Who’s The Man?”.
The Notorious B.I.G – “Party And Bullsh*t” (Uptown Records / 1993)
At the time I made that track in the early-90s sampling jazz was still very popular. I put that beat together but didn’t actually have Biggie in mind when I was making it. But when I played it to him he loved it, but it was just a beat with no hook or concept.
Back then Big was spending a lot of time with me as we only lived a few blocks apart in Brooklyn. I’d pick him up with Lil’ Cease and we’d just drive around listening to music and smoking. I used to play a lot of my own beats but then I’d also play other stuff to try and put Biggie onto old soul and stuff like that. This particular day, I played an old Last Poets tape and at the end of one of their routines it goes ‘And you know, and I know, that ni**ers love party and bullsh*t.’ As soon as Biggie heard that he was like, ‘I wanna f**k with that!’ The Last Poets were a very socially conscious group, so he took what was essentially a positive message and totally flipped it to have a different meaning on his own record. Also, remember the part of the song where Biggie says ‘And a f**kin’ fight broke out…’, then the music cuts off and you can hear all the party noise? To record those sounds Biggie had everyone in the studio get in the vocal booth and just throw mad sh*t around, tables, chairs, everything (laughs).
When I first heard the finished track I thought that, as hard as it was, it was kinda quirky. Biggie had a lot of humour in his lyrics, even though he was talking about some gangsta sh*t. Looking back on it now though, I can sum “Party And Bullsh*t” up in one word – unbelievable. The recording of that track was so spontaneous and nothing about it was planned, so it’s unbelievable to me that 15 years later people still lose it when they hear it.
As told to Ryan Proctor
XXLMag.Com talks to Lox lyricist Louch about his upcoming Koch album and competing with ringtone rappers.
Puffy appearing onstage at the Clan’s Hammerstein Ballroom NYC gig this past Thursday.
Perhaps Raekwon is hoping Bad Boy might put out his delayed “Cuban Linx 2” project now that Aftermath have dropped the ball??!!
Audio from Biggie’s debut London show back in 1995 featuring performances of “Machine Gun Funk”, “Big Poppa”, “Party & Bullsh*t” etc with Sean “Puffy” Combs.