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The Notorious B.I.G. in Fader’s 2011 Icon Issue (Excerpts)

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Fader Magazine highlights the short life and remarkable times of the late great Notorious B.I.G. in their annual Icon issue….The issue drops on May 3rd, with promises of “accounts from the intern who witnessed Big and Tupac’s first encounter, you’ll hear what Puff thinks about when he listens to Biggie’s music today. You’ll see new photos of prominent places in Big’s life“…But NYMag’s Vulture got an excerpt from Diddy’s interview, and Fader’s site already released Noz’ in-depth essay on Biggie’s legacy “Stay Low and Keep Firing.” Great reading.

Where contemporaries like Tupac and Ghostface used pain as a motivation or impasse, Big had long since resigned himself to an epic, insurmountable sadness on and off record. Biggie’s songs are overwhelmed with misery, paranoia and regret. He bragged about money and fashion callously, but never seemed passionate about it or moved by material possessions…Big was burdened first by the streets, and then visibly suffocated by fame and industry. “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems,” arguably his most blissful song, was about how horrible it is being rich…

Biggie’s individuality had value in its own time, but the slippery, irreproducible nature of his music and his persona have diminished his tangible influence on rap a decade and a half after his death. In many ways, today’s rap landscape looks like the exact inverse of the world that Big strived to create. Underground and mainstream hip-hop across the board are instead dominated not by an energy but by a disaffected cool, more Jay than Big. Narrative storytelling is out, formless stream of consciousness is in. Beats, rhymes and content are less aggressive than ever. It’s as if Biggie never even existed.

Screen shot 2011-04-20 at 10.48.07 AM
(nice vintage photo of Biggie from photographer Colin Hawkins…could even be backstage at a SummerJam soundcheck?)

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