The most revealing quote from Biggie Smalls may be something he said outside of a booth. In January 1997, Voletta’s only child sat down with ego trip magazine and a lasting sequence from the interview centered around his then newborn son, CJ.
I just want to be able to snatch him up and we just kick it. I want him to always be able to feel, “I can tell my pops anything ’cause that nigga’s the coolest nigga ever.” That’s what I want to be. I wanna be the nigga’s best friend more than anything. Whatever he wants to do in life, it’s completely his choice. I definitely want him to be able to learn from his mistakes. But at the same time I would never want him to feel like he would have to sell a drug or do anything out of the ordinary for anything, because I’m here.
I imagine being a parent is difficult given the fact someone else’s life is in custody of your own. Combine that with fame, controversy, the fast life and being only 24-years-old at the time and the only thing Biggie had to combat it all was the unyielding adulation in the aforementioned quote. Still, motivation to be the world’s greatest pops and all the love in the world did little to erase the fact his profession was a hazardous one.
All the interviews Biggie granted during the last months of his life mainly centered around the aspect of him no longer being obsessed with an early demise and the title Life After Death proved such – and to an extent, that thought process is believeable. There’s something to be said on the contrary, though.
The last three songs on the now-iconic double disc – “My Downfall,” “Long Kiss Goodnight” and “You’re Nobody (Till Somebody Kills You)” – speak volumes about the mindstate of a man whose celebrity was simultaneously becoming his most endearing and detrimental trait. They dealt with death, but digging deeper, they embodied the paranoia he was obviously harboring after seeing Pac collapse under a barrage of bullets; on his own “coast,” for that matter. As far as he knew, what would stop him from being next?
More than anything, the song “My Downfall” has remained one of the most telling, yet least discussed songs from his catalog. The track itself stood out like a sore thumb mainly because it reflected the same pent-up aggression he showcased three years earlier on Ready To Die. Except this time the pressures of fame and jealously replaced the pressures of wondering where his daughter’s next meal would come from.
“Look man, you wanna see me locked up, shot up
Moms crotched up over the casket, screaming BASTARD
Crying, know my friends is lyin
Y’all know who killed him filled him with the lugars from the Rugers
Or they Desert, dyin ain’t the shit but it’s pleasant
Kinda quiet, watch my niggas bring the riot
Giving cats the opposite of diets
You gain 30 pounds when you die no lie, lazy eye
I was high when they hit me, took a few cats with me
Shit, I need the company (uh-huh)
Apologies in order, to T’yanna my daughter
If it was up to me you would be with me, sorta like
Daddy Dearest, my vision be the clearest”
Those lyrics and the opening bars of Pac’s “Ain’t Hard To Find” represent perfect examples of extreme “controlled psychosis.” Listen to the song and re-visit the quote about his son and really take in what Big was preaching. They symbolize the tale of two powerful, emotional and conflicting thoughts – the desire to help foster his gift of life while openly accepting his own was on borrowed time.
Predicting one’s demise has become cliche’ and a means to appear “introspective” over the years, but nevertheless remains powerful – especially when the thought manifests itself. It’s why John Lennon’s last years are so documented and why Martin Luther King’s “Mountaintop” speech ranks arguably as his most valiant moment. Christopher Wallace’s “My Downfall” may fall far behind the previous two, but it represents a large part of the legacy which has proceeded him since that March night in Los Angeles nearly 14 years ago.
And to think, some artists would voluntarily die to receive the love Biggie has now. Meanwhile, he’d live just to experience the love of his kids.
The Notorious B.I.G. Feat. DMC – “My Downfall”