There’s no one that can deliver a deadpan, cadence-free violent fantasy rhyme better than the Notorious B.I.G. His rhymes are vicious, clever, vulgar, unapologetic and prophetic. He rapped about his own pre-mature death on “Suicidal Thoughts”, the 9/11 bombings on “Juicy” and his posthumous longevity on “You’re Nobody Until Somebody Kills You.”
I love Kayne, Jay Z, Eminem, J Cole, but there’s nobody that holds a candle to the blunt delivery and real life drama-filled lyrics of the B.I.G. There’s no rap album better than “Ready to Die.”
I have an unnatural shyness. Always have. It’s ridiculous, I know. I could barely look people in the eyes until I was like 25. Salespeople: forget it. When hair stylists talk to you as you both look at your reflection, it feels so awkward and self-indulgent and loathsome. Even when I’m ordering something finicky in a restaurant I feel self-conscious. It’s become a hidden quirk that manifests itself once in a while. Those closest to me get used to the shy Dr. Jekyll that surprisingly still pops up once in a while. They politely order on my behalf or wait outside when I don’t want to show the clothes I’m trying on or give me the space to look at myself without another pair of eyes on me.
When I was younger, one of my tricks for overcoming an anxiety attack or an unpredicted bout of shyness was to recite Notorious lyrics. It’s pretty hard to not look someone in the eye when you’re thinking something like:
Fuckin with B.I.G. it ain’t safe
I make your skin chafe, rashes on the masses
Bumps and bruises, blunts and Landcruisers
Big Poppa smash fools, bash fools.
I dare you to feel anything but powerful when you hear and feel the violent self-aggrandizing rhymes of Notorious.
One false move, get swiss cheesed up
Clip to Tec, respect I demand it
Slip and break the, 11th Commandment
Thou shalt not fuck with raw C-Poppa
Feel a thousand deaths when I drop ya
I feel for you, like Chaka Khan I’m the don.
It’s pretty hilarious to think about it now. I didn’t really curse, I was never particularly aggressive, outspoken or braggadocious. But in my mind: I was everything I couldn’t be in real life. I was mad. I was violent. I was the best and I demanded respect. Somewhere between the hyper-reality in my mind and the logistical realities of my suburban life, I found a space to connect with a latent part of myself. A very weird, angry messed up kid who found a commonality in the dispassionate, destructive, drug-fuelled, money-hungry world of Notorious.
I’m pretty sure B.I.G. wasn’t thinking of shy Indian preteens back in Canada using his rhymes to posture around junior high like East Coast gang-bangers but whatever works, right?