Another March 9th has passed. Another day of glorious Notorious praises have come and gone. I’m still bothered that we know when he died and not when he lived, but I suppose tragedy is indelible. Ask anyone at Daley Plaza when Kennedy was assassinated. A three-year career, like a comet flashing in the sky and gone before you know it. Ready to Die dropped in 1994 and he didn’t even make it to see Life After Death drop before the first quarter of 1997.
I often wonder what would have happened to the music and the culture if Biggie had lived. Some people like to say that if he lived there would have been no Jay-Z. I would disagree with that. There was still Nas and DMX and Pun and a bunch of great rappers from that time period and he had a better career than all of them. I think they would have done more music together. Maybe Rocafella Records would have been different, but I think an unprecedented career stands on its own in any era, regardless of impediments.
Maybe Lil Kim would have remained truer to herself. Or killed herself in the face of abuse. He was never going to pick her. I think we all realize that now. And her tragic transformation over the last 20 years into that light-skinned blonde woman she always seemed to come second to is just a reminder of the damage misguided love and abuse can do to someone who seemed like just the strongest woman personality behind that mic at the time.
Maybe Cam’s career arc changes. Maybe he blows up with Biggie and the Dipset movement looks a lot different. Maybe without the pressure to be Bad Boy’s breadwinner, Ma$e sticks around and they have a run together. Maybe that short circuits Jim Jones and we never get to see the Love & Hip-Hop juggernaut and VH1 remains white as fuck as the station known for NOT playing rap.
B.I.G. took such a monstrous leap in skill level from the slow flow on Ready 2 Die, to the rangey tour de force that was Life After Death. Would he have continued that growth? You could already see the wear and tear of the haters on him in interviews. Would Biggie have had the stamina to keep rhyming?
In the end we are left with two albums, a posthumous album, a Junior Mafia album and a ton of remixes. Faith says there is still a bunch of stuff around that was never released. She got a song with Biggie and Jadakiss and a soon to be released duet album with her late husband. It just has always sucked not to see his arc end naturally. To see him fall off, do a strong comeback album and then trade on his notoriety like Snoop has, or move on to endorsements or causes or to just fucking grow up. Wallace didn’t even see 26 years old.