March 9 is the date traditionally associated with The Notorious B.I.G. Death dates are always the more revered for celebrities anyway due to the “where were you when” factor. However, today’s May 21 and had Frank survived the fatal shooting in Los Angeles that forever altered pop culture, Voletta’s baby boy would have turned 42.
What this has to do with Total and Biggie’s “Can’t You See” is much of nothing. The record originally appeared on the New Jersey Drive soundtrack and their self-titled debut album. Two decades later, “Can’t” remains one of the more recognizable tracks to resonate from Bad Boys’ groundbreaking 1990s run.
Bias much? Of course I am. But while you’re here, stay for this. Consider these the five – more like four and a plea for help – unalienable rights about the 1994 Bad Boy mega-smash.
1. To be fair, Puff in the ’90s appeared vastly more hands on with creating music than his role nowadays as, say, executive producer on Rick Ross’ Mastermind. Ciroc and a net worth of $700M might be a reason for that. How much “producing” Diddy actually accounted for on “Can’t” is another discussion for another day. Nevertheless, he’s credited for it and the mellow production is nothing short of timeless.
2. “Can’t You See” is by far one of the definitive rap/R&B collaborations ever made. Try not rapping along with B.I.G. or not singing the hook. Go ahead, try it. It’s been deemed clinically impossible by the Surgeon General. Seriously, look it up, I wouldn’t lie about this.
3. We knew Biggie could craft graphic narratives of street life. We knew Biggie could tap into his introspective spirit. We knew Biggie’s propensity for creating his own smash hits geared towards the fairer sex. And we knew Biggie could wreck an R&B song when presented with the opportunity, word to R. Kelly’s “(You To Be) Happy” and Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love (Remix).” “Can’t You See” was B.I.G.’s best R&B feature, though debating between this and his verse on Kelz’s “Happy” could get heated. Ask any fan of B.I.G. why buddy’s music continues to resonate three decades after his death and versatility should be a common theme.
4. When defending Hip-Hop to older generations and the inevitable question arrises, “So are you going to be listening to the music when you turn 50?” The answer’s simple. Not all of it, but the albums, artists, mixtapes and songs I deem classic and life-defining. “Can’t You See” is life-defining. It was one of my favorite cuts in the ’90s and a house party mainstay in undergrad. Believe it or not, it’s a high quality wedding reception selection, too.
5. As an update, I’ve still yet to find that mysterious Biggie verse that has haunted me since March 2007.
Happy Jackie Robinson year, B.I.G.*
* – Because the reference went over someone’s head, click here.