How I Relate To Biggie Smalls As A Privileged White Girl

B. Hoota

I’m not a 400 pound badass with simpering lips and platinum records behind a pet name. The most cocaine I’ve been exposed to was snorted up the nose of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Truthfully, rap music only appeared in my Spotify playlists ten months ago. Despite my nonexistent street cred and explicit-lyric naiveté, I was drawn to Biggie Smalls the first time I heard his deep-throated rasp. Can’t you see? Sometimes his words just hypnotized me. Modern rap is okay, but compared to the 90s talent of Biggie, Tupac, and Wu Tang Clan, it’s a commercialized bore. I don’t claim to understand the poverty and daddy issues that Biggie—Christopher Wallace—faced since childhood. It’s the themes, the faceless struggles that don’t discriminate based on color, income, etc., that bind me to Biggie. Within Christopher’s rugged youth, lyrics/writing style, and atmosphere of violence, I found details that were similar to my own quiet life. I’m a manicured lawn compared to Biggie’s jungle, but my thoughts and the wilderness of college make up for the difference.

When Biggie was 12, he was already a juvenile crack dealer in his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. 12! At that tender age, I was still collecting snail shells in the front yard and making “grass pancakes” out of lawn mower clippings. However, like the crack king, I gravitated towards my literary craft at a young age. I didn’t know what the fuck “diction” or “syntax” meant, but words were my aftercare hobby, my alphabetical playmates. Biggie and I fell into our respective niches naturally, like he was born to spit bars and I to create stories. Does the craft call you or the other way around? I don’t know, but falling into a passion during adolescence is the creative chaser’s dream. Rap rescued him from poverty. Writing hasn’t rescued me out of anything dire, but without it, I’d be a half-human with little to live for. Besides discovering our inner “tick,” both Biggie and I stumbled across mentors that were instrumental to our trade. For him, Puffy Combs routed his thuggish talent into chart-topping stardom. Articles say that Puffy was an egotistic snake—which may be true. However, he was able to snatch raw ability and mold it into something mainstream audiences would adore. Working alongside Mary J. Blige, Biggie emerged as his genre’s giant with Party and Bullshit in 1993.  My longtime writing mentor wasn’t a diamond-studded charmer. She was my tenth grade English teacher. An intellectual with a stylish bob, Mrs. H was (and still is) the ultimate definition of academia “cool.” She reads novels in French–she has a naked Barbie doll on her desk–she has a PhD in children’s literature! In those AP Language essays, she identified my prowess and was the catalyst for all future work. My mini-break came in senior year when I became a blogger for Huffington Post. With that first A+ essay, Mrs. H infected me with the writing disease. I’ve been sick ever since.

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“My forte causes Caucasians to say

He sounds demented, car weed scented” – Unbelievable

I am half-Caucasian, but I think Biggie’s free-flow style and witty lyrics are ingenious. However, relating to his ditties about drugs, guns, and titties was unexpected for me. Biggie was a storyteller, a street version of Homer with legends of robbery and cocaine instead of Cyclops and Tiresias. His lyrics are clear cut, swift, and cheeky. Yes, there are big booty hoes and dreadlocked thugs, but they’re all actors in an illustrious tale, an original beat saga. Like him, my writing is a confusing mess of metaphors, similes, and words I created. My art history TA once told me “Reading your work is like being on a roller coaster” (*heavy German accent*). I feel the exact same way when I listen to a Biggie song. He pushed the boundaries of his genre, penning in controversial quips (i.e. “I’ve been robbing motherfuckers since the slave ships”) that were too innovative to be offensive. He was communicating the zeitgeist of black culture in the 90s. In a way, he was the oracle for his generation, speaking on sensitive issues in a medium that forced people to listen. He even rapped “I bite my tongue for no one.” People always say “Speak your mind” but in our modern age, that only applies to politically hot topics. Biggie had the guts to slide taboo subjects (i.e. gun violence, black poverty, police brutality) into the Top 10, monetizing them along the way.  As for being controversial, a fair few of my works are labeled as “spicy,” “sexual,” and “offensive” by variety of readers. I wrote “___________ Writing On Sex” for HuffPost that was as landmark in my microcareer as Juicy was for Biggie. My experiences are more domestic than his, but writing about eating disorders, college drug abuse, and politics is still contentious. Again, I’m not claiming to rock the social boat as much as Biggie. But in my microcosm of college friends and conservative parents, I’m a loudmouth. Freestyling with language is also a large part of my work. I invent words, play with punctuation, and attempt to redefine the dulled world of prose. Similarly, Biggie rapped “flizat,” “pizat,” and “thizat” for Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems, creating words when the gangster dictionary wasn’t good enough. He needed to top competition through innovation and depth. To succeed in my cutthroat profession, I have to do the exact same thing.

Finally, the B.I.G is relatable to a skinny bitch like me because—this might be a stretch—of the violence we are both surrounded by. The West Coast/East Coast rivalry is infamous (not to the mention the daily violence that Biggie encountered in Bed Stuy). Ultimately, his life ended in a passenger-seat bloodbath on March 7th, 1997. Bizarre fact: Life After Death was posthumously released on March 25th, 1997, the day I was born…if that doesn’t link me with Biggie, I don’t know what else does. I won’t be gunned down by West Coast gangsters, but the fear of college campus shootings is very real. As I attend a large University, it’s not unthinkable that a person would open fire in Turlington Plaza. “Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete” takes on a new meaning after Kent State and Virginia Tech.

Overall, The Notorious B.I.G. and The Ordinary B. H. O. O. T (me) are not two distinct galaxies. After all, the rest is rust and stardust, right? I won’t ever vacation in jail nor pop out a baby without a husband. Shooting West Coast rappers isn’t in my Grand Life plan. The point of this rant wasn’t to show how I’m a white girl replicate of a rap legend. But both Biggie and I are victims of the “lyrical high,” that intoxication of words and dreams that never leaves our mind.

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