It’s been a full 20 years since the loss Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G.. And as the years go by; his life, his death, and his legacy are continuing to evolve into larger than life forms. The influence of hip hop in that time is unmistakable, and his specific imprint is indelible. With such a massive contribution in such a short period of time; it left a lot of questions to asked and debated.
The easiest part of building any legend, is to create a larger than life narrative. Usually removing the flaws, while in turn, bolstering the legend. But it’s well intended for the preservation of the narrative and contextualizing the influence. The same is often true in the case with figures such as MLK and Malcolm X. But the respectability politics of their endevours plays a role in the narrative. Rappers may not be afforded the same grace.
But why can’t they be?
We often ask, “What would Brother Martin or Brother Malcolm, feel or say, about the state of the black community today?” And from the our dispelled judgment, we’re led to assume they would turn over in their graves. And of course that assessment is based off the narrative of the legend; not the conviction of the man.
So What would “Biggie” say about the state of hip hop music today? Would he approve of the lack of connection to roots of the movement? Would he dispise “mumble rap”? Or would he too busy “still spending old money” to even notice? Would he approve of the demographical and socioeconomical changes in Brookyln? Sooo many more questions could be posed. From his 3rd album direction (I don’t acknowledge Born Again) to people he would or could collaborate with.
All just part of the growth of a legend. A myth. Which always ends up being larger than the actual man. None of these questions can be or will be ever answered. The best part about legends, they never die and always leave you wanting or asking more. Which may be why the hardest thing to do is acknowledge that it has been 20 years. 20 years since his departure. 20 years of legend. And many more years to come.