Once again, the record-buying public is about to be hit with a posthumous album by The Notorious B.I.G. - a repackaged greatest hits tribute. The release is fitting, since we're only days away from the 10-year anniversary of Biggie's downfall. Be on the lookout for more from KING-MAG.com's and pick up the May '07 issue of KING for more on our tribute to the man who is arguably, the greatest rapper to ever touch the mic.
Here, renowned psychologist, Carol Weiss, looks into the mind of our fallen hero via his classic debut, Ready to Die. Read her diagnosis, listen to the album again (like you already haven't), and ask yourself, is Weiss spot on or out of touch.
People have shifting mind and mood states all the time. It appears from Biggie's lyrics on Ready To Die that he had shifting mind states, too. His remarkable stories painted an intimate picture of his inner psychological and emotional life. Was he worthy? Was he bad? These were recurrent questions and themes in his mind throughout the album, while he describes himself candidly; self-images shaped by his experiences are intense and powerful. I have no doubt that there were many times of great joy and happiness for him, that was expressed in his life, music and through his love for family and friends. But sometimes he seemed to be optimistic about life and self-assured ("Juicyâ€ and "Big Poppaâ€), other times he felt hopeless and depressed, like "Everyday Struggleâ€ and "Suicidal Thoughts.â€
It took great strength and courage to share his inner most thoughts and fears with the world on "Suicidal Thoughts,â€ where he starts off saying, "When I die, fuck it, I want to go to hell, â€˜cause I'm a piece of shit, it ain't hard to fucking tellâ€¦all my life I've been considered as the worst.â€ This is not some fantasy; these were core beliefs that he carried with him. But we all have a conscious mind that we think knows what's going on or that thinks it knows. We also have an unconscious mind where all of the stories and all of the experiences of our lives are held. They hold us captive all too often to the beliefs about ourselves that were put there by someone else, that we took in as our own, and this begins long before we can think. Long before a child can understand what is happening on a cognitive level, they have the sense in their body of fear, danger, mistrust, betrayal, lack of love, and protection. Biggie's father left him when he was two, which was his first major lossâ€”so profound and influential in the most basis issues of trust and self-esteem.
People wonder if he was paranoid through songs like "Warningâ€ and "Gimmie The Loot,â€ but I don't think so. I think B.I.G. was just realistic about the world he lived in, and what was waiting around any corner at any given time. His shame about his past seemed always potentially at odds with the extraordinary success that came to him. Yet, making peace with what was and what is can be an impossible quest. It's the human condition.
Nonetheless, all of these ideas, born out of his experiences made Biggie who he was, the good, the bad and everything in between. This is where Biggie lived his life in this dynamic tension between life and death. Biggie's extraordinary layers of music and lyrics uniquely reflect the layers of his mind. It is never just about what you hear on the surface. The top layer is a cover for the messages that lie underneath. The deeper you look and listen the more complex and fascinating things become. - As told to Sean A. Malcolm