Good morning, Tuesday. It's way more my tempo outside with the cooler temps. I'm a fan. Too soon yesterday with all that heat and humidity. Too soon.
So today would be the Notorious B.I.G.'s 47th birthday. I guess I never realized he was one of mine when it came to demographics but I guess he was. I do know that when his album "Ready to Die" came out the year I moved here, I found myself unable to stop listening to it. It was so hard yet so catchy. I fell in love with Biggie as did everyone living in New York and everywhere at that time. And hip hop was a big part of my life back then. I can't think back to my early days in New York without it.
Back in the day, I had a weird pattern of dating guys in the record business. Not musicians or artists, mind you. More record exec types of the scrappy, short, Jewish varietal. That was my speed back then. I have no idea why. Beastie Boy tendencies I suppose. And truly, Jews and hip hop go together like peanut butter and matzoh. From Rick Rubin to Lyor Cohen to Steve Rifkind and back again. We're drawn to it like moths to a flame. I spent so much time hanging out at the offices of record labels- there was a time when it seemed that all of my friends and lovers were in the music business. Those pre-streaming days and such. Incidentally, Lyor Cohen was on our plane coming back from Vegas after we got married. I was wearing an Adidas bucket hat and immediately felt shy. I remember him calling Ja (Rule) on the plane phone before we had cell phones. It was epic.
So to back up, after moving to New York, I ended up very much in the world of 90s hip hop, which was just fine by me. Little clubs like the 205, BOB, Sapphire, Den of Thieves, Rebar, The Tunnel on Sunday nights, Nell's, the reggae/hip hop basement at Club USA. Sunday night showcases at Chaz and Wilson's uptown. DJs like Stretch Armstrong made it all so much fun. Surely I'm missing some but you get it. If you were here, you no doubt remember the sweat fest of fun almost every night. You could go to a small club and dance your face off. It didn't matter what you were wearing, although looking cute was always on the menu. And I could never, ever forget a young group called the Fugees, performing at Tramps, where all of us were basically dancing in our bras by the end of the night because it was so hot on all counts. The energy at that show was absolutely unforgettable, and absolutely in my top ten concert experiences of all time. Ooh la la la.
I also remember how inspired I was by Vibe magazine, the photos in particular. Photographers like Jonathan Mannion (his photo of Biggie above) were doing the best photos of all the heroes and heroines of the scene. In many ways, I think Vibe inspired me to work in photography as a producer. I can remember shooting a young Lauryn Hill at Industria and being completely intoxicated by her beauty and power and style.
And I'm lucky to be married to a man that also lives his hip hop. It's true he may skew slightly more west coast than east coast, but it works. We've been watching the four part Wu Tang thing on Showtime and he's never mad when I swoon over Method Man, who remains the dreamiest. The footage from those early Wu days takes me back to to that time- it was all so gritty and grimy and raw. Really, the Wu's 36 Chambers was more punk rock than punk rock itself. Nothing slick, nothing polished ,complete and total aggro amazingness. And even though Giuliani tried to ban dancing (it's true), he couldn't stop us, and I just feel so lucky I was here during the height of 90s hip hop, which, for my money, is my most favorite. And I love that my aunt loves hip hop as much as we do. She'll often wear an oversized Biggie tee shirt and for that, I love her the most. Nothing like Passover dinner and some hardcore hip hop. That's how we roll in my family.
As for where hip hop is now, it's ok. I don't hate it, but I certainly don't love it. And that's ok. Every generation has to have their music, and I'll let the kids have it. I may not be asking my Uber driver to turn up Hot 97 the way I used to back in the yellow cab days, but still. I can appreciate it. I love that New York was so instrumental in hip hop and always will be somehow. There is no more relevant backing track to this city in the last thirty years and change than hip hop. And that's the truth. Try driving on the FDR late at night some time blasting Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones" and you'll get it.
But today I was thinking about Biggie and how much his music meant and still means to me. You could hear the emotion, the swagger, the pain. I may have to turn up to some Biggie today. In my apartment that happens to be not terribly far from where he grew up. And yes, Biggie's Brooklyn may be more Bugaboo than Bubble Goose now, but still. I love it. I love it all. Go spread love.
Cause that's what's up this hypnotizing Tuesday in the BK. Yours, in juicy memories and hip hop forever. Happy bday, Biggie. XO