The Notorious BIG would have been 50 years old today.
In honor of his birthday, the King of New York was celebrated by some of his closest friends and collaborators, including JAY-Z and Diddy, during TIDAL’s “A Toast to BIG.” Twitter Sectionsmoderated by Elliott Wilson.
Although he was only 24 years old, he left a legacy that will live on forever. “You can see the impact he’s made on the world in such a short amount of time,” said JAY-Z. “Some people live twice as long and won’t make it and touch the world like someone like Big did. If someone can touch the world like they did, you will have a blessed life regardless of time.”
Hov also reflected on their friendship, which went beyond music. “He was just an amazing lyricist, but better yet, he was super funny. We just laughed,” he said. “We talked about serious things in between, but it was all based on when we got our next laugh. We would work and get that out of the way so we could just hang out.
In 1995-1996, Biggie told JAY-Z that he wanted them to buy two houses side by side in Atlanta, but JAY-Z couldn’t understand why at the time. “I look like, Atlanta? I think we’re the hottest guys in New York City, like in the whole world. Why are we going to Atlanta?” he recalled. “When you think about how influential Atlanta is today, you see how visionary this guy was.”
Diddy, who signed a young Christopher Wallace to Bad Boy in 1993, was asked how he went from “ashy to classy” to Biggie. “Man, it wasn’t that hard,” he said. “He always wanted to fly properly. He had a certain sensitivity, and that really came from the Brooklyn style of the time.”
BIG loved to dress up in designer clothes and they could find tailors that fit his large frame. “He always had a problem that it wasn’t his size,” Puff said. “Call 5001 [Flavors] and all the other tailors we could find that we could really, really really wet. He was basically saying, ‘I want to dress like a skinny ni**a, I want to dress like you.'”
“He was traveling alone so it was a great time in fashion,” he added. “Fashion was a big part of his shit, how he looked.”
In addition to his style, his confidence showed in his flow. Diddy brought him records like “Mo Money Mo Problems” and Big was able to adapt. “He could only make music that came from his heart,” Puff said. “I knew I could give him the shiniest record that would make people feel good, and he would still be able to take it to where it would make sense for the people we make our music for, which are people in the hood.”
Diddy added, “This is a beautiful example of his song arrangement, artistry and other side as well. He was able to flow at that frequency because he was a cat who really wanted to have fun all the time.”
Tonight, the Empire State Building will be lit up red and white in celebration of Biggie’s birthday. The MTA is also issuing special edition Biggie MetroCards that will be available at subway stations near its historic Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.