The Notorious B.I.G. may be gone, but the Brooklyn great will never be forgotten. Whether it’s the Biggie sample in Jay Z’s “Jay Z Blue” or his impact on BK’s new generation of MCs, Frank White’s influence remains strong.
To celebrated MTV’s BK Hip-Hop Week, “RapFix Live” host Sway Calloway decided to hook up with Lil Kim and the Junior Mafia to hit the streets of Brooklyn for a tour of the spots where Big used to hang out. It’s all leading up to the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, which will take place at the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, just a few blocks from where B.I.G. grew up.
“Me and Biggie used to just sit on this stoop and we used to just talk and talk and talk,” the Queen Bee told Calloway while standing in front of 226 St. James, the Brooklyn apartment that B.I.G. grew up in before he found rap stardom. “That was the first time I saw him checking me out crazy, we were sitting here smoking, having fun. He was like, ‘You’re gorgeous.’ ”
Though B.I.G. would tour the world before his life was tragically cut short on March 9, 1997, Brooklyn remained essential to his being, especially his native Before-Stuyvesant neighborhood. “I rely on Bed-Stuy to shut it down if I die,” he once rapped on Shaquille O’Neal’s “You Can’t Stop the Reign” shortly before he passed.
Shut it down they did. When Kim returned to Bed-Stuy earlier this month with the MTV News cameras, the neighborhood’s residents flooded the streets, on foot, in cars and on motorcycles just to catch a glimpse of the Queen Bee. There were some very familiar faces too. Lil Cease, who like Kim came up as a star in Biggie’s Junior Mafia, has been at odds with the Queen Bee for years, but both showed up to pay respect to B.I.G.’s memory. While they didn’t appear on camera together, just having them on the same block was exciting for fans to see.
Kim took our cameras to the catholic school that B.I.G. attended as a child and to Futon Street, where he shot his unforgettable “Juicy ” video. She also made a stop on Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, the corner where B.I.G. first made a name for himself after his first stand-out rap battle. “This is where Big battled Preme in ’91,” the rapper’s back-in-the-day DJ 50 Grand said, pointing out the spot to us.
“The funny thing is when [Preme] walked away Big was still clowning him,” Kim added about the battle, which was famously recreated in a scene in the Biggie biopic “Notorious.”
During the entire tour, Kim lit up with every mention of her mentor. “When he talked about what he wanted to do, it never seemed like he was just talking or dreaming. It was almost like he was talking because he knew that was gonna happen in his life,” she said. “He was so optimistic, so sure about his future, he just knew these things were gonna happen.”