SALUTE BY KHALID STRICKLAND a.k.a. BLACK PACINO
Today, on the 14th anniversary of his death, my wake & bake was dedicated to Biggie Smalls. The White Haze conjured up memories of a hometown hero.
I grew up in the Fort Greene-Clinton Hill area of BK; the same neighborhood where Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. is from (his block was near the borderline of Bed-Stuy). He and I have many mutual friends. In fact, Biggie gave an R.I.P. shout-out to my stepbrother Kymo in the Ready To Die liner notes. My other brother Marlo and Lil Kim’s brother are best friends. When Marlo came home from his bid, he reunited with Kim and went on tour with her.
Long before B.I.G. became a legend, I’d see him at the chicken shack on Fulton and greet him with a nod of respect. We ain’t know each other but we recognized one another from the hood and it was all bueno.
My homegirl dream hampton, journalism O.G. and prestigious filmmaker, was a very close friend to Biggie. Circa ’94, dream let me hear a rough, unmixed copy of Ready To Die given to her by the highly-skilled rapper himself. She had it on cassette and it wouldn’t be released until months later. After intently listening to every banger, including a few songs that never made the final cut, I emphatically stated:
“This is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in my whole fuckin’ life.”
I knew that I had just witnessed something groundbreaking and special.
When Biggie was gunned down in 1997, it hit us particularly hard. Me and my ex-girlfriend sat in Fort Greene Park all day after we got the news, holding back tears and burning countless L’s. One of the saddest, yet most electrifying moments in Brooklyn’s history was when Biggie’s funeral procession rolled through the hood.
And now, before the clock strikes midnight, I’ma spark up some more bud for The Notorious One. White Haze for Frank White. Only the best for Brooklyn’s Finest. Puff puff salute.