Biggie’s Beginning: Mister Cee And DJ 50 Grand Reminisce

The pair recall how the Notorious B.I.G. went from heralded in the 'hood to worldwide fame.

A star was born in the Pool Room on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street in Brooklyn, New York, in 1991.

A young Christopher Wallace got his first bit of shine. His crew knew Chris was nice with the wordplay, but back in 1991, Wallace went up against an MC who was the king in the neighborhood, Supreme. Backed by DJ Hit Man 50 Grand, Wallace — who obviously went on to be known and adored by millions as the Notorious B.I.G. — squashed the competition. Biggie was heralded in the ‘hood and went on to worldwide fame.

“50 Grand lived on Lexington Avenue. They did their basement demo [there],” said legendary spinner, Mister Cee, standing next to 50 Grand in front of the now-closed Pool Room. “When I was DJing for Big Daddy Kane, I lived on Gates Avenue between Bedford and Franklin. Me and 50 Grand grew up together. We from the same area, same ‘hood, went to junior high school together. He brought the demo to me. I was getting ready to go on tour with Kane.”

“You were on tour,” 50 interjected, correcting Cee. “But you stopped here for something. I chased you down.”

50 Grand got his introduction to Big from the Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Damien “D-Roc” Butler. The two used to hustle in the streets together.

“One day, D said, ‘Yo, 50, I got this guy. I want you to be his DJ. He’s nice,’ ” Grand remembered. “I said, ‘Bring him through.’ Took him to the basement. We did three demos that first day I met him. Passed it on to Mister Cee. That was it. He skyrocketed after that.”

Those rough recordings would eventually land Big on the road to stardom.

” ‘Microphone Murderer’ is the main demo [song],” Cee said. “It’s the demo that I took to Matty C from The Source magazine for the ‘Unsigned Hype’ article. Diddy heard about The Source magazine ‘Unsigned Hype’ situation. So the ‘Microphone Murderer’ was the demo song Puff heard and got him signed. Besides ‘Microphone Murderer,’ [the demo tape included] ‘Guaranteed Raw,’ ‘Live in Action’ and another song called ‘Love No Hoe.’ And when we say demo, it wasn’t a four-track. It was just [50] DJing on two records in his crib.”

“Two turntables and a mic,” 50 Grand said. “Ironically, the beat to the ‘Microphone Murderer’ demo was the same sample me and Big Daddy Kane used for ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin’.’ When I heard it, it sounded amazing to me because it was the same beat Kane did in 1988. I’m hearing it a few years later by a new rapper that’s putting it down just as crazy as Kane did. It was ill. I played it for Kane and Scoob and Scrap. I ain’t gonna lie: When I played it for Kane and them, they was like, ‘He aiiiight. He aiiight.’ ”

Kane’s take on Big changed from lukewarm to very receptive. The two Brooklyn rhyme kings eventually became friends and recorded one of the most famous freestyles ever, live from Madison Square Garden.

“The more I played it, Kane was like, ‘This guy, he’s got something,’ ” 50 said. “Big was a big, humungous Big Daddy Kane fan. Once Big and Kane met, they had a lot of similarities. It’s scary. One thing people didn’t know about Big was that he was a funny dude. People don’t know Kane is a funny dude too. They know ‘Smooth Operator,’ but Kane is hilarious. Big’s got that same wit. So them being funny and them thinking alike as far as how they wrote [rhymes in their heads] and mapped things out with songs. When they got together, they became good friends.”

Tuesday (March 9) marks the 13th anniversary of Big’s unsolved murder .