Words by Phlip
I posted an FB status/tweet a while back that implied that Big Pun had the best breath control of any “fat” rapper and, in such, was a better representative of most rappers – fat or not. Most people took this to be a dis of Rick Ross, but I swore those off a while back after a post on my own blog, because it was just too easy. A couple commenters came with the standard “well, what about Biggie?” response, to which I responded with “yep, better than him too!”
Among many things, I was called, some of the more humorous included:
- * Hater
* Hip Hop know-nothing
Luckily for them, I am a middle child and therefore a big boy and the ripe
old age of 33, so I did not jump in my (usually) trusty Subaru and go on a “kill ‘em in the face world tour,” I just let it roll off. I am not the type to post a provocative opinion without being prepared to develop it.
Two or so weeks later, Geechie Suede of Camp Lo – a mutual friend of a couple of my friends here in town (Ski Beatz is from here in Greensboro) – made note that he and Pun were among the only ones at that point who did that thing where they punch line after line after line without a breath in between or pausing between the second downbeat for the next bar.
[Phlip note – no, I can’t rap, I just know the ins and outs of writing them, since I have made a beat or few in my lifetime] I took advantage of that chance to repeat my sentiments from before about Pun and he actually agreed. No one called HIM a faggot, but I also do not have any records in stores or any fans.
Taken at surface value, I am still of the opinion that Big Pun was a better rapper than Biggie. I mean this SIMPLY at the value of lyrical ability from a technical standpoint. His breath control and his use of his bars to drive the stories he told when he told them, to make you feel what he felt when he took an angry tone, to elicit a hearty chuckle out of you when he felt like it. His presence was enough to make you forget the fact that those around him in his own circle were not even on his level lyrically. No, Fat Joe is not even NEAR worth mentioning as a lyricist, don’t play yourself.
Sure, sales are driven by the machine behind them, and Biggie was lucky enough to have the Puff Daddy “promote the shit out of ‘em, sell a ton of records and fuck ‘em for their publishing” mill, so he not only reached more living rooms in his very short career, he did his legacy the luxury of dying early and without a lot of extraneous product lying around to sully it, like Tupac did.
[Phlip note – yes, I went there, but that is another post]
With that in mind, in attempts to pay what people at the time called “respect” for the dead, no one would mention the elephant in the room that Big’s raps were more often than not the VERY shit that we have been critical of Diddy for doing to hip hop beginning then and continuing on ever since, and that was what made it so easily accessible. On the other hand, Pun made his way with a lyrical ability and delivery that SHOULD have belied his physical size – especially when you consider the hand that physique had in his expiration – and did so to considerable commercial success, even before passing on. He made a point of SAYING that he wanted to be held as one of the best during his tenure, something else that Biggie could not necessarily be taken as having said. We (well, me and most people I know, at least) bought Big Pun’s albums based on that raw-ass lyricism, and the fact that as many people that did actually did along with us shows that the plan was properly executed for as long as it could have been.
Don’t get it twisted, I am not saying that Biggie was NOT nice when and every single time he chose to be. Ask my friends what the first song I put on when we rode out and EACH will say “Unbelievable.” I am also not saying that Pun’s death didn’t have a hand in how people view what he was able to do in his also very short career. What I am saying is that the revision of history is WILDLY more in play with how we remember Biggie as an artist than how we do Big Pun.
Okay… Who wants to call me bad names first.