Rest in Peace Christopher Wallace.
I kinda wanna talk about dead rappers. Not just Biggie. Today is Biggie’s day, but there’s more to it here. I wanna talk about our fallen soldiers. I wanna talk about why we care and what we get from it.
“You know dead rappers get better promotion” -Jadakiss
I love Biggie. I’m spinning a best of Biggie mixtape in my office this afternoon. His music is incredible. I only know Biggie as an icon, though. A legend. When Biggie died I was too young, I wasn’t as wrapped up in rap music as I am today, I was still playing Gameboy and dodgeball and trying to figure out how to deal with losing my father. I was still wiring my brain together and soldering the ends in and all the pieces weren’t in place yet. I only grew to know Biggie as a memory that hadn’t ever happened to me. Maybe that’s the greater loss, maybe that’s why I feel a certain type of way when I listen to Biggie or Tupac.
Loss is life, or maybe life is loss, but when you really lose something you’re lost without it.
I’m about to get my g-pass revoked here, but I shed actual fucking tears when Pimp C died. Like, 8-year-old-watching-the-end-of-Disney’s-Fox-and-the-Hound type tears. I sat in my bedroom for hours listening to “Heaven” , “Trill Niggaz Don’t Die”, and “How Long Can It Last” over and over again. That three-song run that bridges the gap between the end of the first-disc of “Underground Kingz” and the start of the second-disc. I’d skip my iPod back again and again and stare at the stucco on my bedroom ceiling and try to magic-eye my feelings back together again.
I think the connection we feel to an artist gives us license to feel intense, dizzying emotions but from a safe distance. When my father died it broke me, I think anyone who’s experienced a close loss would feel the same way. It breaks you, and it takes you years and years to put yourself back together again. Sometimes even decades later you’re not 100% positive if all the pieces actually ended up going where they belong. There are songs by Biggie and Pimp C and Eyedea and Camu Tao and Tupac and Mac Dre that I can listen to that make me feel like that again for 4 or 5 minutes at a time before the feeling washes away. It’s like having a safe-word. It’s like cave-diving into your subconscious with a rope tied to the exit.
But there’s also the other side which is one of celebration. Men built up as immortal monuments and cultural touchstones. Icons. Statues. The invincibility that exists only in death. For some of you it might be Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix or John Lennon but we have Biggie and we have Tupac. Warrior-Poets with brilliant polished cuirasses and plackarts. Dead don’t bleed. Trill N-Words don’t die because they’re fucking immortal, so we can lose them over and over and over again and know that they’ll still be there waiting for us the next time we need to lose them again.