BIGGIE WEEK: “Beefin’ Bullyin’ and Biggie: The Drama Continues”

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“You’re nobody/ ‘Til somebody kills you.” Notorious B.I.G.

In today’s news, there was a double homicide in the Bronx, yesterday, involving two fifth grade students at PS 187. After heated words, gunfire was exchanged, leaving both children mortally wounded. Though first thought to be a result of bullying, it was later discovered that the killings were a result of an argument over who was the greatest rapper of all time – Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls. More news at 11:00…

On March 9, 1997, the murder of Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious BIG sent shock waves across a Hip-Hop nation still mourning the death of rival rapper Tupac Shakur months earlier. Wallace’s death was followed by pledges to stop the violence, not only in Hip-Hop, but in ‘hoods across America. There were numerous conferences and rallies with people declaring that never again would a life so full of promise be wasted.

The final outcome 15 years later… epic fail.

The senseless violence that plagued this country during the ’90s is still prevalent, and many will argue that the problem has gotten progressively worse. With the growing popularity of social media (Twitter, YouTube, etc.) the ‘net is flooded with videos of people beatin’ each other’s brains in. In 2012, every kid with an iPhone can become a ghetto Don King.

Although the focus in the media today is on “bullying,” this term does not adequately address the drama that is going on in the streets. While it is popular to do a psychoanalysis of Lil Billy from the ‘burbs who was picked on so much that he marched into his school cafeteria one day and started blastin’, rarely do we ask what makes Lil Tyrone from Compton carry a gloc and shoot up the block on the regular. This type of behavior is just accepted as a cultural norm, especially in the world of Hip-Hop. Like Cyprus Hill said back in the day, “Here is something you can’t understand/ How I can just kill a man.”

There have been rivalries in Hip-Hop since the beginning. Many can remember the classic battles between Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee or the Cold Crush Brothers and Dr. Rock and the Force MC’s. Even during the era of “Hip-Hop unity” there were ideological rifts between KRS One and members of the X-Clan, and Ice Cube and Common. However, except for instances such as BDP throwin’ that PM Dawn dude off the stage, these rivalries rarely led to violence.

However, by the mid-’90s, entertainment and other industries began to realize that beefs were extremely profitable for selling, not only selling “murda music,” but on a deeper level, guns and ammunition. Not to mention supplying the prison industrial complex with an endless source of funding. This is why many people consider the East Coast/West Coast beef that resulted (at least on the surface) in the deaths of Hip-Hop legends Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls the result of a well-thought out marketing scheme that went right.

This is not merely some some conspiracy theory, either.

In his autobiography, My Infamous Life, Prodigy of Mobb Deep claimed that an associate once told him that the infamous shooting of Tupac at a New York recording studio that kicked off the deadly East Coast /West Coast beef was an attempt by Shakur “to start controversy” and use “Biggie and Puff” to “turn his gunshot wounds into marketing and promotion.”

More recently, R&B legend Chaka Khan told CNN that a manager once told her that she was “worth more dead to him than alive.” If this can be said about a musical icon, think about how much more dispensable are the lives of Hip-Hop artists who are viewed as easily replaceable common street thugs.

Since, Hip-Hop is dominated by African American males, the stereotype of Black youth as violence-prone animals only heightens the folklore and commercial appeal of “beefs.”

Although Biggie once defined “beef” as “when you need two gats to go to sleep” that ain’t necessarily so. In the bigger scheme of things, real “beef” is bombing a country while they’re sleep. But if your world view extends no further than your block, then the ultimate example of beef is Black men killing other Black men in the streets.

This is especially destructive when this ideology becomes embedded in the psyche of the youth.

According to Dr. Amos Wilson in his classic work, “Black on Black Violence: The Psycho-dynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in the Service of White Domination,” the Black-on-Black violent criminal “hates in other Blacks those characteristics that he hates most in himself” and he “commits homicide to keep from committing suicide.”

This is the type of logic (or lack thereof) that flows throughout Notorious B.I.G.’s CDs Ready to Die and Life After Death, as he weaved tales of murdering other Black men with lyrics about being “Black and ugly as ever” and how teachers told him that he would “never amount to nuthin.'”

So the question, after seeing all the death and destruction in our communities over the last 15 years is, why do we still glamorize this nihilistic mentality? Why are we more concerned with creating another “Frank White” than we are with saving a “Christopher Wallace?”

As Dr. Na’im Akbar wrote in Visions for Black Men, “If we spend all of our time studying the destitute, desecrated and destroyed, then we’ll end up with a destitute, desecrated and destroyed image of the Black man.” He urged that, “If we want to know how to survive, let’s look at the image of those who did survive.”

An example of survival is the one-time lifer, Durham, Carolina’s Mike “Poetic Mike” Anderson, who went from serving a life sentence in prison to founding “Polished Souls,” a movement to save young people from the streets.

However, for every Poetic Mike, there are hundreds of Christopher Wallaces who don’t get second chances, but wind up six feet under.

Whether you call it beefin’, bullyin’ or Black-on-Black violence, the cycle of self destruction in the ‘hood must end.

Despite what the Notorious B.I.G. said on his first hit, “Juicy, “the stereotype of a Black male misunderstood” ain’t all good.

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop, ” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at, on his website at, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • AugustusPaulo

    Biggie WAS PURE AND sheer genius from an entertainment standpoint of emceein 

  • Reblogged this on mediafresh.

  • Terrance Goodman

    We rather kill and shoot than to stand as one .”Niggas are scared of revolution …..Plain and simple.Too many crabs in the bucket and miss guided youth.Waka n Fake Ross are not letting ish rip while pushing keys.It should to be the streets certified a person.That person was the spokesman for the streets ,wit tales of past deeds.Now everybody gangsters.

    • water_ur_seeds

      ‘It’s funny how on the block ni**az will kill you for cash/
      But never raise the gun and cry out “Freedom at last’

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  • …i call it brotha’s fallin for the okey-doke…cats killin each other over dumb shit…not even the idea of something dumb…just plain dumb shit.  let them rest.

  • rep87

    I dont believe some of this article, these kids are into lil waynes and soulja boy crap like that mindless behavior, the ages you give were not even born when PAC ,Biggie were murdered, First LIE and the article has alot of half truths , This just futher let me know Hip Hop has sunk so low you guys got to dig up two dead artist to try and spark a conversation, Industry over run by out of touch CEO;s of major labels, radio sucks big time thats why i dont listen to that crap, and this web site is falling off to ,You guys arent honoring Biggie you want people on here attacking each other over who rap better between PAC and BIGGIE RIP TO BOTH !

    • Om3ga_Blaq

      You TOTALLY missed the point…

      • rep87

        Im commenting on the article  dont know what you read ? its nothing to debate here you must read between the lines and understand what was the motive here . let it go 15yrs later, these young hiphop heads dont know about no Biggie and Pac keep it real

      • Om3ga_Blaq

        Biggie and Pac were used in this article as a means to drive home a bigger point. That point being that we as Black people have been preconditioned to hate one another and as a result, we’re quick to kill each other for unjustifiable reasons. It’s systematic and divide n conquer has been happening since the plantation. This article has very little to do with Biggie and Pac and more to do with the condition of our youth in every hood across Amerikkka. I know exactly what I read.

      • Om3ga_Blaq

        It’s also about how the industry and the prison system profits off of our ignorance in falling for the divide n conquer scheme. There’s more prisons in Amerikkka than in ALL of the world COMBINED and it’s one of this countries chief sources of income. Hard labor with close to no pay-out. Black people in this country make up about 70% of the prison population but roughly around 12% of the country…ain’t that many guilty brothas n sistas in all the world, SMH. Can’t tell me that disproportionate ish ain’t systematically designed.

        It’s not a coincidence that the most ignorant forms of Hip Hop music get the most spins on radio and TV either. It’s advertising. The youth, as impressionable as they are, hear a lot of this mess and actually try to live it out and as a result, more of us end up in a pine box or in prison. Don’t get me wrong, I know social-economic imbalances help fuel the murder and prison rate, especially when dope sales are involved due to poverty but a lot of the killin and a lot of the reasons these brothas n sistas is gettin knocked is because they’re out trying to prove that they’re harder than the next kat. We get “having to act tough or play hard” confused with demanding respect.

        There’s a time and a place for everything and sometimes, often times, we pick the wrong times and reasons to “act hard and/or tough” on some “when keepin it real goes wrong” ish. Not to suggest that a person should just be out here in the world all cotton ball soft and timid, the world is way too cold to be soft and naive, but being “stand-up” don’t necessarily mean trying to be Tony Montana. You do have to know how to pick and choose your battles. Too many of these kids and some real child-like adults get caught up in the hype and don’t know how to walk away from a situation so that they can live another day or remain free to continue being influential to that next kat that’s lookin up to them.You really thought this was about Biggie and Pac? SMH. Like I said, you TOTALLY missed the point.