Goodbye Biggie, Hello Barack

The Future Becomes The Present and The Past Finally Rests
It’s been a little while.

It’s Go Time.

So, on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 the world watched as the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, was sworn in.

I gotta admit, it was pretty awesome.

For those who have forgotten, and for those who are brand new, I’m a bit of an Emo feller. No, I don’t wear uber-tight jeans or eyeliner or have that stupid haircut–I’m just emotionally honest. I love what I love, I don’t have reservations about being said, and being an Internet Tough Guy is the stupid shit since Jim Jones did his “Swagga Like Us” take-off.

That being said, I was overwhelmed a few times during the Inauguration. It was inspiring seeing so many people gathered and cheering on Obama. It made my eyes well up seeing other people so overrun with emotions–everything from gratitude to elation. What happened yesterday was amazing, the happy ending to something that began in February 2007.

I believe very strongly in communal experience. It’s not a “tribal” thing, it’s not a “trendy bandwagon” thing, it’s not a “safety in numbers” thing. No sir. There is something beautiful and peaceful about sharing a common belief or common interest. Yes, my Kanye West standom is legendary and largely bulletproof, but being at the Glow In The Dark tour in Madison Square Garden with 20,000 people made the whole experience better.

Sooo, holding hands with my father while Obama took the Oath of Office, and seeing so many people there with a belief not in a man, but in the ideals he espoused–hope, responsibility, the belief that we can light up a dark world–was incredible.

***

The Knicks defeated the Bulls on March 9th, 1997. I know this because I called my best friend Joe Turk to rub the victory in his face. He told me to cut it out, that he was having a bad day:

“I got into a fight with my mom, the Bulls lost, and Biggie got killed.”
“What??”
“Yeah, you didn’t hear? Biggie got shot last nite and he died at the hospital.”

>> >> (fast forward)

It’s now September 1997, the VMAs. Puffy and Ma$e come out to perform their verses from “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”. They finish their verses, and Puffy runs off to change from a shiny suit to a white suit. He takes the microphone and begins singing “I’ll Be Missing You”. Sting comes out. Faith Evans and 112 come out. At the end of his performance he says, “Clap your hands for Princess Diana. Clap your hands for Gianni Versace. Clap your hands for Tupac Shakur. Clap your hands for The Notorious B.I.G. Clap your hands for everyone we’ve lost.”

Up until this point, I knew it sucked that Biggie died, but I hadn’t really felt anything emotional aside from “Dang, he’s not around anymore”. When that VMA performance was over I was in tears. I felt Puff’s pain. I felt the pain of Voletta Wallace and Faith Evans and Jan (Biggie’s first baby mama). I felt all of their loss, my first step into the world of empathy.

>> >>

Rap is largely trash nowadays. Every month someone new comes out and bites a Biggie beat or line or samples his voice. Shit, motherfucking Boosie or Webbie or one of those fucks took it upon themselves to redo “Miss U” (disc 2, Life After Death).

BIG’s shadow looms large, and it’s not a stretch to say that his death stunted the growth of hip-hop–maybe not commercially at first, but definitely creatively. Sure, we’ve had breakthroughs and some originality, but not enough to save the artform from fuckery and decline.

Anyway, back in 2007, BIG’s tenth anniversary, the usual celebrations persisted  and it felt like the right time to say goodbye to Christopher Wallace. Even still, I myself wasn’t ready to say goodbye to BIG, goodbye to the Bad Boy era, or goodbye to my most formative of years–which happened to coincide with the Rise of Puff’s company as a dominant force. I grew up with Bad Boy music–from “Flava in ya Ear” and “Juicy” all the way through Mario Winans’ “I Don’t Wanna Know”. I was a Bad Boy stan, and Biggie is their patron saint, and I wasn’t ready to let all that go.

***

January 20th, 2009. Obama gets sworn in at noon, and we finally say goodbye to The Bush Era–a time in which the world got dirtier, meaner, more dangerous, less hopeful. It was a time in which my own life spiraled out of control in every single aspect–from relationships to work to where I lived. I’m not blaming Bush for it, but the timing must be paid attention to. Shit didn’t feel right. Dude didn’t care about the country at large, or the world, or doing the right thing. In my own life, shit was miserable, hellish.

Obama’s in office now, and when he says what he wants to do, I believe him. Sure, the haters and the conspiracy theorists will talk about how he’s not doing anything or can’t do anything or blah blah blah, but despite that, I still believe him. I believe he’ll want to make not only the lives of people around the world better, but make those people better.

I believe that hope is no longer something that can be mocked, something possessed by fewer and fewer every moment. I believe that Hope, True Hope is back.

***

When Notorious was over last nite I was in tears, listening to Angela Bassett speak in the Voletta Wallace cadence while Biggie’s music played. I listened to her say that B.I.G. was, “…Ready to live.”

What some of, okay, most of you don’t know is that my first album–warts and all–was called Ready To Live. I’m sure people have said that before I did, but hearing that in the movie was powerful, like it was okay to let Biggie’s spirit rest, to wish him a peaceful slumber instead of wishing he was still here.

***

I said goodbye to Biggie Smalls last nite after watching his bio-pic, and it wasn’t a sad thing. I had a nice trip in the way back machine, and went with two guys I love like brothers, Maverick (father of my oldest nephew) & his real-life brother, B. Smithalini. The communal experience, the affection for a fallen artist impacted all 3. I shed tears, Mav shed tears, and even a stoic Smithalini was moved.

***

I said hello to Barack Obama yesterday after watching his inauguration. I held the hand of my father, a man who grew up in a racist-ass town being called “Spic”, whose mother once had people drive by her and spit and throw empty bottles and cans at her because she had the nerve to be Puerto Rican. I held his hand and watched everything change right before our eyes, as a Black Man with an African name took the position of most powerful man in the world. A man who is, ironically, considered a “minority”.

 The change might not last forever, the honeymoon might not last forever, but for now–Right Now–we have something we haven’t had in a long time. Something I haven’t felt since Christopher Wallace lived and breathed, and for a few years after that stopped.

What I felt was Hope.

–RTH

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9 Responses to “Goodbye Biggie, Hello Barack”

  1. websince1982 Says:

    well written my man…. i still have yet to see notorious…. i think i’ve been holding out cuz i really hate what the media have one to both him and pac since they’ve passed…. but i’m definitely gonna make the time after reading this

  2. MK Says:

    Now this was some really real talk. Like, the realest. I usually stay up late and sleep in late unless I have to so I just stayed up all night to catch the inauguration at 9 am (pacific time). It was really amazing. I still can’t believe we’re all finally rid of George Bush. I’m turning 25 next week, and of those years, 12 of them were spent with someone named George Bush running America. That’s almost half my life. I’m too young to remember Reagan but I remember Dana Carvey’s Bush very well, and almost half my life has been spent with one of those assholes, those enormous gaping assholes, running the most powerful nation on Earth. Now Obama’s in charge, and on day one he shut down Guantanamo. He’s already better than the entire last eight years. It’s a crazy feeling right now, like there’s a chance things might actually get better in a lot of ways. It’s finally cool to be American again, so soak it up and enjoy the relentless toadying Canada is sure to offer you.

  3. Mark Twain Fame Says:

    dandy ass post sir…shit I didnt even know you came back out of retirement, I guess I didnt get the fax/memo…

    *checks fax machine*

    *sees that its off and unplugged*

    “okay who the fuck unplugged this bitch?!…Bob from Accounting?…it was you wasnt it? Huh! Huh!!! You fuck, fine you want your stapler back, here jeez…”

    I’ll stay tuned to the site sir…also them new Scrubs epi’s are so on point right now.

  4. reythehussein Says:

    @ Web– It’s a very respectful story, with minimized corniness. Some good performances, some questionable casting decisions, but it was a good flick, nice trip down Memory Lane.

    @ MK– Yeah man. I’m not uber-patriotic, but I do believe America offers unique opportunities, with the American Dream being that if you work hard you can take care of yourself and never have to do something you don’t want to do for someone who doesn’t care about you. I hope Obama and Co. really do make that true again. Add some sympathy and empathy to the dream, ya know? Instead of being the world’s police, we should take care of shit before the cops even need to come, ya know?

    @ MTF– Heh, yeah, I’m biggity back. Cosign Scrubs, them thangs is on point.

  5. Belize Says:

    Fuck the knicks

  6. reythehussein Says:

    Pfff… Don’t be mad cuz they beat your Suns, BOYYYYYY!

  7. EnglandRepresent Says:

    Belize you little muthafucka. I’m coming to your hood in October this year. I am gonna turn your women OUT.

    Rey Rey. Big Poppa lives forever as the GOAT of hip-hop. I listened to some rare Biggie spit this morning, like I do most mornings. I will stay stannin B.I.G. simply because his music has got the funk. So with that said this movie is a must see for me, unfortunately I still haven’t found anywhere in Aussie that’s showing it.

    Can Obama really shut down Guantanamo? If he does achieve that then he’s already fulfilled expectations. I’m hoping he turns out to be like we’ve all hoped he is.

    *daps*

  8. reythehussein Says:

    LOL @ EngRep..

    Yessir, BIG’s music was incredible, magical even–corny as it might sound.

    As for Obama, he signed an executive order to shut down Gitmo within a year.

    *NY to Oz daps*

  9. freemusicsheets Says:

    I’ll Be Missing You – Sting…

    “I’ll Be Missing You” is a Grammy Award-winning song and hit single recorded by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans and 112, in memory of fellow Bad Boy Records artist Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace who was murdered on March 9,…

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