Death painfully stalked Biggie Smalls like an obsessed fan. Yet, by the time Life After Death dropped at the top of 1997, one thing was apparent: B.I.G. had a lot to live for. Most importantly, his family. “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” tackled the equation of financial stability and personal chaos. “Miss U” reflected, ironically, on a life lost. “I Got A Story To Tell” may have been his finest storytelling moment had it not been for “Niggas Bleed” directly before it. And “Sky’s The Limit” saw Frank White usher in the one ambition every man desires, or at least should, for their loved ones.
“To protect my position, my corner, my layer
While we out here, say the “Hustlers Prayer”
If the game shakes me or breaks me
I hope it makes me a better man
Take a better stand
Put money in my mom’s hand
Get my daughter this college plan so she don’t need no man
Stay far from timid
Only make moves when your heart’s in it
And live the phrase “sky’s the limit…”
Biggie’s penchant for introspection occasionally get swept under the rug for a variety of reasons. His ability to craft iconic verses for R&B records still looms large over a game that’s coming closer and closer to erasing the lines of rap and rhythm and blues. His graphic street narratives still rank as defiant moments in Hip-Hop’s young, but controversial upbringing. And, in comparison to Tupac’s, B.I.G.’s “deep” songs were great, but Pac’s were game changing.
“Sky’s The Limit” was a grand moment in B.I.G.’s career up until that point. It represented a “perfect song” in the overall execution of the hook, the beat to the lyrics. It was B.I.G. leaving an audio will, in a sense. Rap was violent and unforgiving in the mid-1990’s. People lost their lives because of its messages and as far as he knew, Father Time was in hot pursuit. Money drove Biggie, but not in the sense of purchasing all the Coogi one night’s show could buy. Ensuring his family was in good hands long after he left was the unshakable truth in arguably the most honest moment from L.A.D. And now, 15 years after the song’s liberation, can we honestly say Biggie’s prayer was answered?
Earlier this week, his daughter, T’yanna, visited Hot 97 to chop it up with Peter Rosenberg and K-Foxx. What was interesting was not only seeing a young girl I’ve witnessed through so many degrees of separation grow up right in front of my ears, it was hearing how she approached life. She sounded happy and doubly more focused as a student at Penn State University majoring in business. Rosenberg even tossed around the question of what being B.I.G.’s daughter was like in terms of accessibility to funds and the answer was surprisingly smooth. She’s never wanted for much thanks to her father’s brief and highly successful run through rap from 1993-1997. For whatever she did, she earned it. His son, C.J., on the other hand, has movies under his belt while he and his grandmother, Voletta, rang the opening bell at NASDAQ on January 8, 2009.
Big left behind a substantial financial benefit, no doubt. Yet maybe the one gift equally as important as money was his hustler’s spirit which his children and mother embody. Any man will admit having his family experience an easier road than he did is his most important mission in life; almost resembling a mandate from God. Regardless of the fact Chris Wallace’s physical presence has been absent for 15 years, he can smile from heaven knowing at least his “Everyday Struggle” was never duplicated. He guaranteed jail was never in their life plan like it was his. He also guaranteed selling drugs was an act his kids would never know the true consequences of. He put money in his mom’s hand. And he got T’yanna that college plan so she wouldn’t need a man.
If that’s what Biggie meant when he said, “See you chumps on top,” then, yeah. The Notorious B.I.G. can rest in peace knowing his final prayer was granted.