As some of you may already know, I’m a blonde white girl from Cape Elizabeth. These exterior conditions perhaps make me an unlikely fan of The Notorious and maybe a more likely fan of Third Eye Blind. This is true, but I’m also a serious fan of Biggie. By “serious” I mean I take Christopher Wallace very seriously; he’s affected a lot of my thinking in recent years. I like to think that his rhymes have the ability to transcend social boundaries because he preaches things that we can all relate to. I listen to Biggie when I’m feeling down, feeling unambitious, feeling a little naughty—even when I get a sudden urge to rob something. Just kidding, I’m way too nerdy to ever accomplish a robbery. Biggie’s success and longevity as an artist comes not simply from his rhymes that cling onto your ear drums, but also from his ability to plainly state the problems and pains of everyday life. He rhymes about being poor, getting rich, betrayal, love, hate, and his personal swagger (don’t hate him for it).
Sadly, Wallace was murdered at age 24. As I approach this age, I can’t help but reflect on what he was able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I can’t joke and pretend that he was some kind of saint, because he clearly was not. He was a gangsta thug that probably killed a few people, sold crack, robbed rich white people for sport, and once chased an autograph seeker with a baseball bat. This being said, you can find honest lessons in his music, many of which I still find valuable today. Here are a few that I find helpful.
- Everything you get, you gotta work hard for it from “The What”: This is basic logic but can be occasionally overlooked in our culture. No, I get that you get this, but sometimes it feels like society doesn’t promote this notion. Especially with people like Kim Kardashian getting famous from doin’ it on camera and being good looking. I’m sure she would defend her case by saying that that took “hard work” to take hose and pay for all those nose jobs, but on the real, we all know they are a bunch of phonies. Unlike the rest of us, we gotta work hard for that which we receive. It’s old news, but still something we should be reminded of.
- Never sell no crack where you rest at from “Ten Crack Commandments”: To me this means don’t bring your work home. It’s important to keep those worlds separate, especially if you’re selling crack. You don’t want crack heads chilling on yo block, waiting for you to roll up so they can shake and sputter their requests in your direction. You also don’t want coworkers or your boss to bother you on the weekend. Taking personal time is important for personal sanity. So don’t work from home unless you actually work from home. Use your home-time for your family and beloved hobbies, not for selling crack.
- It doesn’t matter, skinny or fat or light-skinned or black from “One More Chance”: This one, too, seems pretty obvious, but is a good reminder to not judge a book by its cover. Of course, Biggie used this in the context to explain his sexual prowess, but I think its pretty easy to say that tolerance is really in these days. Love people of all colors, shapes, sizes and even political preferences (although this is extremely difficult at times).
- That God damn credit, get it from “Ten Crack Commandments”: This was, of course, in reference to crack heads and how if you lend them crack on credit, they will never pay you back. While this is true for crack heads, it is also true in other walks of life. Debt is a horrible thing to be involved in as both the lender and borrower. Debt ruins dreams, families, friendships— not to mention its a great way to ruin your day. So don’t lend it if you can avoid it and don’t borrow it if you don’t need it. No I-owe-yous, folks!
- Fuck bitches, get money from “Get Money”: Wow, how is she going to explain this one. Easy: Blindly pursue your dreams. Hunting the dollar and plowing fine ladies was Biggie’s dream, and he practiced this daily. You gotta put your soul into what you do and practice it daily, even if the vocalization of it is rather crude and demeaning towards women. *Note* I’m not endorsing crude and demeaning words/actions towards women. In fact, as a woman, I find them distasteful—I’m just saying that I get what you’re saying about the big picture, Big.