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B.I.G.’s prime, deferred

‘Young G’s’ is proof the best of Biggie was yet to come

Christopher George Latore Wallace would have been 44 on May 21.

Wearing an oversized plaid shirt, he was in a San Francisco radio station on March 5, 1997, when he gave one of the last interviews of his life. “I just want to let everybody know I’m here, you know what I’m saying? I ain’t going nowhere. Bad Boy ain’t going nowhere.”

He was killed in a still unsolved drive-by shooting four days later.

As talented a lyricist and storyteller the culture has ever seen, Wallace’s career, through no fault of his own, has always felt incomplete. At the time of his death—as crazy as it sounds—B.I.G. was somehow improving his saxophone-smooth delivery. Puffy’s 1997 debut album, No Way Out, especially “Young G’s,” was proof.

“Young G’s” (produced by Rashad Smith) was never a single. So it never became a Billboard Top 20 pop hit like “All About The Benjamins” or “Victory.” The latter Puffy song featured Busta Rhymes, was produced by Stevie J, and Biggie’s first verse on it might be the best of his career. But G’s? It was meant to be a solo B.I.G. record. He didn’t live long enough to finish it. The verse? Damn it feels good to see people up on it/ Flipped two ki’s in two weeks / And didn’t flaunt it / My brain is haunted.

Because of Jay and B.I.G., “Young G’s” is as dreary as it is dope.

B.I.G. once again proved there wasn’t a beat he couldn’t paint like the Sistine. And the Jay Z feature? In a career littered with classic similes, keep it ghetto like sunflower seeds and quarter waters ranks near the top.

And now: imagine Biggie and Jay standing beside each other at this weekend’s Bad Boy reunion concert. And imagine the years of music Brooklyn’s Finest could have created had March 9, 1997 been just another date on hip-hop’s calendar. Because of Jay and B.I.G., “Young G’s” is as dreary as it is dope. N****s wanna hit me, he rapped, If they get me / Dress my body in linen by Armani. Biggie wanted to enter the pearly gates fly.

Imagining Biggie as a middle-aged father / hip-hop OG is tough. The fact that no other option exists is even tougher. Solemnly we mourn, as Jay Z raps on the song, all the rappers that’s gone.

Justin Tinsley is a senior culture writer for Andscape. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single most impactful statement of his generation.