The Notorious B.I.G.'s influence on Rap continues to shine as the rapper, who died 17 years ago today (March 9), remains an important source of inspiration for several emcees. Nino Bless, a fellow New Yorker, is one such rapper, who has been impacted by The Notorious B.I.G.'s legacy for years.
"He's the first rapper I tried to emulate in style and got pretty good at it," Nino Bless says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. "I called Kool G Rap once on the phone just rapping like Biggie and he said, 'You do a better Biggie voice than Biggie' jokingly, obviously."
The Notorious B.I.G.'s influence on Nino Bless extended beyond this impersonation, he says.
"He's the first emcee I felt connected with through his music," Bless says. "I definitely wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for him and I'm not just saying this cause this is a tribute in his honor. This is very real. I'm trying to reverse the Ready to Die concept as an artist and get the most out of life no matter the results or expectations. I probably needed one extreme to reach another. So the impact on my artistry is clear, but he's also had an impact on my life...He made me ask, 'Why do we feel like this?' [He helped me] try to understand it rather than fight against that emotion or not understand. That was enough for me to seek out information that has molded me to who I am as a person."
Nino Bless Discusses The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die
One album that helped Nino Bless find some of this information was The Notorious B.I.G.'s debut collection, Ready To Die, a project Bless says hit close to home.
"I'm from Flatbush, but my grandfather lived in Bed Stuy, so I knew exactly where Biggie was from and I could see the visuals he painted with his words very vividly," Bless says. "It was weird for me. I wanted to keep hearing it, but certain times it was too real for me and I almost battled myself through that album. I was a young kid at the time and a lot of what he [rapped about], I experienced or knew people that felt the same way with 'Suicidal Thoughts,' 'Gimme The Loot and [other songs]. In a weird way, there was this 'I made it' feel to it so that kept me positive, but I knew some scary people around Flatbush where I'm from and some I was even related to. Some of that 'by all means necessary' attitude he had was extremely real to me 'cause I was right next to it and I remember always trying to understand that mindset. Something in his music was telling me 'You don't have to do this. This is me.' I can't even explain it, but that's how connected I was with that album.
"This was a time when we bumped an entire album, tape or CD for months and even years," Nino Bless continues. "Ready To Die never left my CD disc changer until 4 years after its release and that's because it was so scratched up I had to take it out. I had the tape and the CD. I was glued to that album."