Wednesday, March 09, 2005
R.I.P. Christopher Wallace
It was on this day 8 years ago that Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, and Big Poppa, was gunned down on the streets of Las Vegas. I can remember getting the news from MTV late on Saturday night, returning home from a night out. I was speechless at the time, and still feel at a loss for words all these years later. It was all so pointless and terrible, as we lost one of the unique, exceptional voices of the time.
Biggie is the greatest MC of all-time, in my opinion. He is the voice of my teenage years, which should help explain why he stands above Rakim, 2-Pac, Jay-Z, Nas, whoever. His mix of intelligence, humor, gangsta and self-hatred speaks to me in a way that no one else does.
Unfortunately, when one thinks of the man, the question of "what if?" dominates. What if he hadn't been killed? How much more great music would we have? How different would hip-hop look now? Much like Jeff Buckley, another magnificent voice who was taken too soon, sometimes the man and his music are overwhelmed by the tragic end.
Today, I don't want to get lost in these questions, and would rather focus on what we have. Ready to Die is one of the greatest musical statements of the last century, a magnificent work that stands up 11 years later. I listened to it tonight as a memorial, and was shocked at how bangin' it still sounds. This shit could be on Power 99 or Hot 97 and you would not blink an eye. I hope that we can remember on this day the great work that he left behind, instead of focusing only on the tragedy that was his ending. I hope that songs that he left behind can remind us of how great he was, how much he did for the music we love and why there could never be another Biggie Smalls.
This tribute is not enough, but it is the best that I am going to do. Check another brief tribute at So Many Shrimp here, and buy Ready to Die if for some unknown reason you do not already own it. None of it's enough, really, as Biggie was taken too soon from us. We miss you, Christopher. We always will.