I woke up on Sunday March 9, 1997 to Angie Martinez crying on the radio. Angie Martinez, my favorite radio host on my then favorite station HOT 97, was crying as she announced that Biggie, was murdered in Los Angeles.
This was devastating. And a loss I felt personally as a young girl in Brooklyn coming into my own in a hip hop era characterized by the East Coas/West Coast beef that had taken the life of Brooklyn’s own Notorious BIG. That would not be the only Sunday that year that I woke up hearing tears because a loved one was gunned down unfortunately.
Christopher Wallace, born on May 21, 1972, grew up in the Stuy, blocks from where I grew up in Clinton Hill. Juicy dropped as I was set to begin the 6th grade and as I was completing the 8th grade he was already gone.
His videos shot in Brooklyn brownstones put the swag of my borough on display for the world to see, his talent was undeniable, his impact still felt 20 years after his passing.
As a Brooklyn girl who lived in LA for 4 years, I will never forget the first time I drove by the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire as Biggie’s One More Chance played in my car. Eerie doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. I teared up as I rhymed along to my favorite BIG tune. Memories of the first time I heard it at Brevoort played through my mind. My god sister and I sat in her room waiting for Hot 97 to replay it so we could record it on a cassette.
I can remember where I was when I heard all of his tunes for the first time. His voice singing out “Ladies, grab your tits if you love hip hop” on the Junior Mafia mixtape that my brother played in our apartment on Hancock place with the wood shutters. His music may not have been appropriate for a 12 year old, but it belonged to me nonetheless. And I miss all the ways he would have continued to transform the culture had he lived.
I missed BIG in ’97, I miss him still. And he will live on forever as a part of my memories of my girlhood on the planet of Brooklyn. Much love to the Brethren 🇯🇲.