#InMemoriam The Notorious B.I.G. Twenty Years Later

Mural in Brooklyn, New York depicting The Notorious B.I.G. as Che Guevara

Check it/ I grew up a fuckin’ screw-up/ Got introduced to the game/ Got an ounce/ and fuckin’ blew up – The Notorious B.I.G., “Runnin'”

What a difference twenty years can make. Or, in this case, what a difference twenty years can not make! It’s been two decades since The Notorious B.I.G. was tragically gunned down in Los Angeles on March 9th, 1997. However, the hip-hop template that B.I.G. set prior to his passing has yet to be altered. Christopher Wallace was 24-years-old when he passed. Looking back to that year, it seems like he was way older than he was because of his mature demeanor. B.I.G. was definitely one of the coolest and just a real lyricist at heart. He put words together like no other lyricist in hip-hop had done before him. Although we’ve seen a few eras of hip-hop come and go since 1997, there is still this obvious void that has yet to be filled. Why is this?

Shortly after B.I.G.’s passing, Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) rose to stardom and did an excellent job of continuing the legacy his predecessor began. But, as far as talent and skills on the mic, no one has yet to surpass the young Brooklyn boy with the crisp Coogi sweater and the fancy Versace shades.

It’s 2017 and Emo Rap is what sells records. Long gone are the days of “rags to riches,” “made it from the bottom” hip-hop fairytales. Still, we all get a thrill out of dreaming about B.I.G.’s imaginary replacement and hoping that they could possibly be waiting on the sideline somewhere for their chance at fame. Until then… B.I.G. reigns supreme! Rest in peace Comandante Biggie!

The Notorious B.I.G. in his element! Photo courtesy of Aziza Hassan’s instagram @rashidaaz via @trace_urban Instagram

 

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Mural honoring "Radio Raheem" played by the late actor Bill Nunn

#LoveVsHate

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Photo courtesy of Spike Lee’s official Instagram account @officialspikelee

Earlier today, actor Bill Nunn passed away at the age of sixty-two, less than one month shy of his sixty-third birthday (October 20, 1953-September 24th 2016) in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. I felt like I needed to write something to commemorate his life and career because I literally was just watching Do the Right Thing yesterday evening while channel surfing and stretched out on the couch. Nunn played many different parts in various movies including Spider-Man, He Got Game, New Jack City, School Daze and others. However, his most popular and prominent role, in my mind, is when he played the part of Radio Raheem, the mute b-boy in Spike Lee‘s 1989 breakthrough film Do the Right Thing. All Radio Raheem wanted to do was play his music loud on his boombox and convey his message of love to the world via his Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn neighborhood.

However, the irony of Radio Raheem’s story in Do the Right Thing is that he was murdered in his own neighborhood by the police for playing his music and spreading his message of love. In the graphic movie scene where Radio Raheem is strangled to death, Spike Lee did an incredible job of imitating real life and what’s going on in society right now to a tee.

Bill Nunn played the role of Radio Raheem over twenty years ago and look at all that’s going on today in America with law enforcement. I was around in 1989 and I’m still here. So, I know first hand how things have worsened. And this is not just due to the changes in technology like some people may claim. There has been a surge in police violence and something must change to end this. If writing about it can lead to some type of progression, then I’ll keep writing until I can’t write anymore.

Hate is the sickness and love is the cure. This is one thing Radio Raheem had up on a lot of us twenty plus years ago. So, to honor the late great Bill Nunn, how about we try more love and less hate?! Love is a major key!

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Rest in Power to actor Bill Nunn a.k.a.”Radio Raheem”