March 9, 2004
My Brush With Biggie Smalls
March 9th, as you all should know, is Biggie Smalls Memorial Day, this year marking the 7th anniversary of Christopher Wallace's passing. I will now commemorate the day with a somewhat random and namedroppy story.
In the mid-nineties I used to spend every Saturday night at WNWK 105.9 FM, which was home to hip-hop's very first radio shows in its earlier incarnation as WHBI, and housed classic rap shows on Saturday nights throughout the 90s including The Dirty Dozen, the infamous DNA/Hank love show, Red Bandit's Nighthawks show, and the legendary Awesome Two (who will be our guests this week on WBAI).
I would do my show earlier that night, then come down to WNWK's studio on Canal Street to hang with my radio brethren and play chess with Stan the engineer. After the Dirty Dozen finished their show we'd usually go out for a late-night meal, and whichever artist was in the house that week often came along.
One of the artists who came along regularly was Shinehead, who was well past his commercial prime at that point but still keeping himself in the game, and always big fun to be around, gregarious and full of jokes. That night while we walked up to Round the Clock on 8th street, Shinehead was in the middle of telling a story had everyone's rapt attention when a voice came booming from inside a car with tinted windows parked outside the restaurant: "YO! IS THAT SHINEHEAD!?? YO C'MERE MAN!!"
We all turned to around to see a big black hand beckoning us over to the car, and followed behind as Shinehead walked over to greet the fan, and as I stepped up for a closer look I thought "damn is that Biggie Smalls??" And that's just who it was, excitedly giving Shinehead a pound and going on about how he loved his record back in the day. That'll always be how I remember Biggie, as a fan who was totally geeked to be meeting Shinehead, and gave him utmost respect even though he himself was already a much bigger star by that time.
I told that story to Mister Cee soon afterwards, and he said that sounded just like Biggie, that he was always a devoted hip-hop fan and music lover at heart, and no matter how much he talked about being in the rap game for the money it was always his love for the music that really drove him.