When I First Heard Notorious B.I.G., With Love From Parlour

Thirteen years after the rapper BIG’s death, we’re celebrating his life with our first memories of the artist and pride of Brooklyn…After you read ours, share your first memories of Big!

I can’t remember where I was when I first heard B.I.G. but I do remember how I felt: mesmerized. He created these narratives that were so vivid, so textured that it didn’t matter where you were—you could be on another ride with B.I.G. by just closing your eyes. I was fourteen and hooked. Even my Mom liked him!J. Baker aka Shannon Washington

My first introduction to Biggie was in high school. While I was never a hardcore hip-hop fan growing up, my boyfriend at the time was Biggie all day every day. I remember the first time he pulled out a Biggie cassette tape in my car and started to play Ready to Die. Little did I know the MC would be behind some of the biggest hits in the years to come. Fast forward to my freshman year in college at FAMU, when he was killed, I’ll never forget going to the local Tallahassee, Florida record spot at midnight to cop the new album, Life After Death. The entire parking lot was packed with cats eager to hear what the rapper had to say from the grave. – Mahogs aka Sherry Bitting

I was a hip-hop and R&B head in 1994 when Biggie’s image first hit BET’s “Rap City” — they weren’t playing the MC much on California radio yet — and I liked him because he used old grooves for his samples. I’d long been digging into my parents’ record collection, dusting off Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Mtume, so when I heard “Juicy” I was excited! Then I secretly bought the album ON TAPE, because my Mom wouldn’t let me listen to cursing, and listened to it. Now you have to remember, BIG came out after the 1992 Dr. Dre/Snoop Funkadelic explosion in California. If you think we listen to Drake alot now, then you only have a small idea of how much Deathrow I had to digest. But Big was a nice break. Later, while working at The Source magazine, I was tied into the story of Biggie’s belt, an heirloom the rapper left in the office before he died. Crazy. — Steels aka Hillary Crosley


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