Yesterday we remembered the tragic murder of Christopher Wallace, better know to many of us 90s-era teenagers as The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie left a lyrical and musical legacy that’s still matched by few and quoted by many, and having only release two albums during his short 24 years. There are far too many classic songs by B.I.G. to include in this post alone: “Party & Bullsh*t”, “Everyday Struggle”, “The What”, “Unbelieveable”, “Warning”, “Mo Money Mo Problems”, “Kick In The Door”, the list goes on and on. And sadly, that voice was taken away from us inching closer to 20 years now. Not only that, we’ll soon be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the release of Ready To Die, the seminal and essential debut album from Big. But one of the things I’ve always found so cool is that a song that Big was featured on sampled some very progressive, avant garde jazz from Herbie Hancock, hence the reason for this post! The 1993 song “Dolly My Baby” by Dancehall artist Supercat, featuring a young Biggie and Puffy rhyming over the track int he infancy of the Bad Boy era, samples Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” from the 1973 jazz fusion album Headhunters. And while the former is a gritty pounding early 90s Hip Hop classic kissed with just enough Reggae flavor to appeal to the two different genres, the latter is a classic funk-jazz hybrid that opened up a whole new world for Herbie Hancock after he had been part of Miles Davis’ ensemble for so long. Biggie’s verse on “Dolly My Baby” is playful, rugged and unkempt, but also would give a glimpse into the harsh yet clever and intricate lyrics that would make Ready To Die one of the signature albums of 1990s Hip Hop. Check out both songs below!
Just two days ago was the 11th Anniversary of the murder of one of the greatest and most respected figures in all of Hip Hop throughout all time: Jam Master Jay of the Legendary Run DMC. A recent video courtesy of Revolt TV got me to thinking about JMJ, as well as many other prominent figures throughout Hip Hop who we’ve lost senselessly. But more than reflecting on their lives and what they did for the music and the culture, the question for me that comes to mind is: Why are the murders, shootings and killings of so many of our Hip Hop heroes still unsolved to this day? There are tons of answers to this question: we all know the stigma attached to being an African American man in the United States, and the fact that Hip Hop, though it’s a globally dominant force, is still viewed by many as less than worthy of attention, praise or even respect. Does that have to do with why the killings of so many black men and women that have been part of Hip Hop music and culture still sit in the unsolved pile? Are their lives no less worthy than any one else that have gone on into the next lifetime at the hands of whatever gunman or assailant? The murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace are the two biggest unsolved mysteries in all of Hip Hop history, but there are so many more that don’t have the mainstream folklore attention attached to them, from Jam Master Jay and even Chris Lighty. And in Lighty’s case, there is yet even more uncertainty and confusion, because there are theories abound, and we’re not even truthfully sure if his was a homicide or a suicide. The honest truth is that we have to CONTINUE to ask these questions about these folks. And it goes beyond just the music…it’s about the fact that they were PEOPLE, and their families deserve at least some semblance of the truth. I’m reminded of the Bob Marley tune “Redemption Song” and one of the most poignant lines in it: “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?”
Nobody does the YouTube covers like Melanie Fiona…and I mean NOBODY. That is all.