A new revealing biography of the Notorious BIG, Justin Tinsley’s It was all a dream: Biggie and the world that made him, is due out May 10, just ahead of what would have been the Brooklyn legend’s 50th birthday. In the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Tinsley takes us through the life story and all-too-brief discography of one of the greatest rappers of all time.
To listen to the full episode, hit play above or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Some highlights follow:
Most fans know that Biggie and Tupac were friends before they became enemies, but it went way beyond that.
“They immediately hit it off,” Tinsley says. “They were both Gemini, so they were sort of Gemini twins. These guys were incredibly close. Tupac would have Biggie on his house when he was in LA, [have him] sleeping on his couch… Tupac respected the fact that Big was really into the streets and doing what he was rapping about. And obviously he loved that Biggie was such a gifted lyricist and blacksmith. During this time, Biggie really appreciated that Tupac came from a line of freedom fighters, and he always stood up for what he believed to be the best interests of black people. » https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.512.0_fr.html#goog_1338911225
Tupac’s claims on “Hit ‘Em Up” of an affair with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans, were fiction, and getting caught up in the feud was devastating for her.
Evans had secured Biggie’s blessing for a studio collaboration with Tupac, with no idea how serious the conflict was. “She went through hell in a war she didn’t ask to be a part of,” Tinsley says.
A jazz musician named Donald Harrison was a young Biggie’s Mr. Miyagi, teaching him and his friends the secrets of music-making.
“They would go there and he would teach them the art,” Tinsley explains. “This is where you stand in front of a microphone. This is breath control. Listen to these jazz artists and understand, this is how you can crank up a beat.
Sean Combs’ role in Biggie’s mainstream success should not be underestimated.
“You can say what you want about Puffy,” says Tinsley, “but there’s no denying the impact he’s had on Notorious BIG’s career. As Tinsley tells it, Puffy would tell Biggie, “85% of this album I’m gonna let you do whatever you want to do, but that 15% you gotta give me that, like you gotta give me ‘Juicy, you gotta give me “Big Poppa”.
Biggie really liked country music.
“His first DJ was his mother,” says Tinsley. “She was the one who always played music in the house. And she was a huge country music fan. You can’t say it didn’t influence him one way or another.
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From Rolling Stone US.