September 11th and the Mythic Biggie Smalls


I love Biggie Smalls.  Because I’m an intellectual white guy from Brooklyn, of course I can’t help but compare him to Bob Dylan.  Both were poets, soothsayers, shamans, uncompromising truth speakers, but more then all that, artists of endless talent.  But unlike Bob, Biggie was gunned down when he was only 24 years old.  An absolute travesty.  Biggie was a genius, and his early demise was a massive hit to youth culture.  His universal appeal,  his perfect flow, and his unflinching need to speak truth to power, could have risen him to untold heights of cultural and even political significance.  With all that said, all we are left with is a taste of his magic, a mere glimmer of his ability to effortlessly achieve these things.

I’m a New Yorker.  I happen to work right by the World Trade Center.  I’ve walked by it nearly everyday for the past 3 years.  Biggie too, was a New Yorker, one of the greatest New Yorkers ever, and on September 11th, I always think of his immortal line from “Juicy,” “Now I’m in the limelight cause I rhyme tight, time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade…”  The line of course was a reference to the 93 bombing, but given Biggie’s ability to so frequently hit the truth on insane levels of profundity, its no surprise that a throwaway line such as this would resonate so deeply years later in one of his most personal and vulnerable songs.  So here it is, on 9/11/10, Biggie’s “Juicy,” one of the greatest songs about the man, and about New York City.