The Notorious B.I.G.‘s creative process is explored in the latest episode of HipHopDX‘s “Deep Dive” series — watch it below.
The 22-minute video paints an intimate picture of what the late rap legend was like in the studio, straight from the mouths of close friends and collaborators like Lil Kim, Jadakiss, DJ Premier, Ma$e, Krayzie Bone, Too $hort, DJ Clark Kent and more.
Despite being a prolific artist whose ability on the mic was effortless, Biggie was carefully calculated when it came to crafting songs. In one clip, Diddy can be seen in the studio ribbing his Bad Boy signee for taking “30 days” to write one song.
Another part of the episode shows DJ Premier talking about how he waited around in the lab for “maybe eight or nine hours” without seeing B.I.G. write down a single rhyme.
When he finally prodded him about it, the Brooklyn native replied: “Oh, no doubt. I’m ready […] I don’t write nothing on paper,” before stepping into the booth and recording “Unbelievable.”
“To have his clever wordplay that he does and he doesn’t do it on paper, that shows you the incredible mind of The Notorious B.I.G. and how ill he really is an MC and as a lyricist,” Premo says.
DJ Clark Kent, who produced “Sky’s the Limit” and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” explains in another clip that Biggie was inspired to ditch the pad and pen after watching JAY-Z construct his verses entirely in his head.
His success wasn’t built on talent alone, though. Illustrating his relentless work ethic, Clark Kent also remembers how The Notorious B.I.G. began putting together his sophomore album Life After Death almost immediately after releasing his debut Ready to Die.
Still, Biggie liked to have fun in the studio and his sessions would often feature a party-like atmosphere full of women, weed and liquor. Jadakiss, who as part of The LOX appeared on the Life After Death cut “Last Day,” recalls being impressed by his former labelmate’s “focus” with all that going on around him.
“All them girls, the whole Junior M.A.F.I.A. — it’s like a party session,” he says of being in the studio with B.I.G. “But he was still able to focus and weed all that out and concentrate and lock in on the song or the topic, and made the shit come out amazing.”
Beyond his artistic gifts and status as one of the greatest rappers of all time, Christopher Wallace was a warm character with a big heart, as former Junior M.A.F.I.A. groupmate — and one-time fling — Lil Kim remembers.
“Biggie was the type of person to motivate you,” she says in one interview clip. “He always wanted you — anyone — to succeed. He always wanted everybody to have a better life for themselves.”
Sadly, Biggie was killed at the tender age of 24 in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in March 1997, but his legacy continues to live on.