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Borrowing Biggie

I’m going to go on a limb and say The Notorious B.I.G. is hip-hop’s most quoted lyricist. Everyone from frequent borrowers like Beanie Sigel to one-time leasers (Nas’ bodyguard) has nabbed a line or two from Brooklyn’s portly poet. In fact, it’s hard to name a rapper who hasn’t jocked Biggie’s fresh at least once. Among my favorite swagger jacking sessions tributes is last year’s “Announcement,” by Common—not because he’d so profoundly flipped C. Wallace’s words. It’s because he takes on the Bad Boy posture for just long enough, spitting “See them rappers, they be duckin’/when Com’ be buckin’/in the kitchen fuckin’/on the sink/Got my momma a mink…,” never missing a step in his flow. But later, he snaps back into his backpacker mold, rhyming “I’ll probably go to jail for—nah, that ain’t me/I style crazy/And net like Jay-Z.” It’s like Com’s so hardcore, caught up in Pharrell’s guitar interpretation of Biggie’s b-side classic “Dreams,” then has that realization, where he finds himself back in the crochet pants and sweater. On this 12th anniversary of Biggie’s death, I thought of an exchange I had with Common when talking about his “Announcement” record last year. Here’s what the Chi-Town MC had to say.

You went extra hard with the Biggie Smalls references on “Announcement.”
It was a tribute to Biggie, paying homage. Pharrell already put [the song] into that family. The guitar made me think of “Dreams of Fucking an R&B Bitch,” so I went on my Biggie thing. Biggie is an incredible person when it comes to style.

Was he a big influence in you flipping your flows?
Biggie is a prime example of someone that rides tracks. I could remember being in the Chi and listening to the radio [when] I first heard “Unbelievable.” I was like, “Man, this is some of the most incredible music I’ve ever heard.” I wanted the DJ to just play it again. As soon as I heard, “Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant/ the livest one/ Representing BK to the fullest…” Ooooh, that’s a flow right there!

Listen to “Announcement” here:

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Christopher Wallace would’ve been 36 years old. List your favorite Biggie tributes in the comments. And check out DJ Drama and Cookin’ Soul’s The Notorious B.I.G. Tribute mixtape here http://www.cookinsoul.com/CSDRAMABIG.zip

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