By Carter Maness
The Notorious B.I.G. was larger than life even before his afterlife. Today, for what would have been Christopher Wallace's 40th birthday, many are paying tribute to the ultimate hustler-rapper and wondering what might have been if his life wasn't cut tragically short in a 1997 shooting.
For us, Biggie emphasized hardness – whether in how he lived his pre-rap life, the senseless violence in the memorable stories he portrayed and even how he enunciated his words as if each syllable was being pistol-whipped as it flew out of his mouth into perfectly-formed street parables.
The iconic video [above] of B.I.G. destroying his Brooklyn competition as a 17-year-old is legendary for a reason. The rapper we would come to love and honor was already fully-formed. His bravado and demeanor was unique enough to live on. He was unflappable.
"When I first started-up, I just wanted everybody to just close their eyes and just listen to what I'm saying and picture everything," Biggie said in a MTV interview with Fab 5 Freddy back in 1995. "I'm trying to rip the hardest, hardest rhymes. I just want to just be the hardest MC. That's my goal… When somebody hear a new B.I.G. joint, I want them to be like, 'That's so hard, yo.'"
Biggie must have known, deep down, that he had already attained such a goal. That's why he's still blaring out of car stereos, referenced in mundane conversation, creating stink-faces and smiling in picture-form over the aisles of Brooklyn supermarkets. It all came across crystal clear. It all knocked us out.