One of the greatest freestyles in hip-hop history took place at, of all places, a Patti LaBelle concert.
The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur came onstage together in New York for a legendary performance. DJ Mister Cee tells the story as if it were yesterday.
“That was live at Madison Square Garden,” Cee said in Brooklyn, minutes from where Biggie grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “It was a concert me and [Big Daddy] Kane did for the Budweiser Superfest back in 1993 at Madison Square Garden. We were the only rap group on the show. I think Patti LaBelle was on the show, Tony! Toni! Toné!. We only had 10 minutes. Being it’s New York, we wanted to do something extra crazy for our show. So we asked Big to come out. Kane told me to reach out to Big.
“Big had the record ’Party and Bullsh–’ out from the ’Who’s the Man?’ soundtrack,” Cee added. “He was starting to bubble. When we got to the Garden, Tupac was there anyway. The movie ’Poetic Justice’ just came out the week before. Everybody was already hype off ’Pac, because the ’Poetic Justice’ movie came out. [The freestyle] just came about backstage. ’Pac, Big, the Rugged Child Shyheim. We just brought all of them onstage, and the magic happened. I recorded that on a cassette inside Madison Square Garden. So the whole ’Where Brooklyn at?’ To this day, when they hear that, they know [that Madison Square Garden show] is where that comes from. I recorded that on cassette, then it eventually got transferred to vinyl and became probably one of the illest live hip-hop performances of all time.”
Big Daddy Kane took the mic himself during that cipher, as did Kane’s dancer Scoob Lover.
Tuesday (March 9) marked the 13th anniversary of the death of the Notorious B.I.G. It is a day for his fans to celebrate his life and legacy.