Considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest rapper and lyricist of all time, the Brooklyn-born rapper known as The Notorious B.I.G. died tragically at just 24 years old.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
Born Christopher Wallace, known as Biggie Smalls or just Biggie, the artist is responsible for some of the most classic songs in the genre, including “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “Dead Wrong” and more.
Caught up in the west coast vs. east coast gangsta rap feud of the 90s, Biggie and his west coast counterpart Tupac Shakur were both murdered within a span of about six months in the mid-90s, costing fans and loved ones decades of music from both skilled wordsmiths.
Nevertheless, their legacies live on.
As such, here today, we wanted to dive into Biggie’s thoughts on life, his craft, love and the world at large outside of his famed rap tunes. So, dear reader, without further ado, here are The Notorious B.I.G.’s best 21 quotes of all time.
1. “I cleaned up my act, and I made this rap thing work for me. I thought people would respect me for that. But instead, it’s, ‘Oh, he’s sold all these records, and now he thinks he’s all that.'”
2. “Back in third grade, they used to say, ‘Take whatever talent you have and think of something you can do with it.’ I liked to draw, but what could I do with it?”
3. “How real can your music be if you wake up in the morning hearing birds and crickets? I never hear birds when I wake up. Just a lot of construction work, the smell of Chinese takeout, children screaming, and everybody knocking a different track from Ready to Die as they pass down the street.”
4. “Growing up in the streets of Bed-Stuy, it was hard, yo.”
5. “The second time I went to jail, I was like, ‘Okay, this is not the move.'”
6. “I hold grudges, but I can’t hate nobody; that’s not my nature.”
7. “I’m definitely a writer. I don’t even know how to freestyle.”
8. “Every true hustler knows that you cannot hustle forever. You will go to jail eventually.”
9. “My mom is from Jamaica, and she was going to school in the morning, and in the evening she was working, and at night she would go to night school and then come in and go to sleep.”
10. “I’m not a security-type person, I don’t want to have bodyguards around me. I’m not into all that. Now we just chill in the house. There are a lot of times when we want to go out, but we just don’t.”
11. “If I grew up in some suburb, I’d come out with a song about potholes in my lawn.”
12. “’96 is the year of love. We all need to pull together.”
13. “I’m basically different things to different people. If it’s a guy, I’m-a probably have my guard up because it’s a street rule that when men come around that I don’t know, I just immediately throw shade on them. But I don’t associate with fellas all that much; if it’s a girl—a beautiful girl—I be nice.”
14. “Please, all you MCs out there, all you fans out there, don’t think Big gonna make a record dissing 2Pac or the West Coast because it’s not going down like that. I can’t even see me wasting my time or my talent to disrespect another black man.”
15. “You gotta mature, you know.”
16. “My real life helped me sell a lot of records.”
17. “I can’t even say Puff and me are like brothers, ’cause we closer than that.”
18. “Everything was happening on that strip of Fulton Street. And if I wanted Chinese food, if I wanted to play video games, if I wanted pizza, if I had to go to the corner story for a juice, I had to go on Fulton Street.”
19. “With big folks, either people think you look mean or it’s more of a jolly Santa Claus, ‘Oh, he’s just a pudgy little teddy bear pillow.'”
20. “Basically, I wake up at nine o’clock in the morning, go to different record stores, go to the studio, think up different ideas for songs. Just workin’.”
21. “Pac get busy. People can’t take nothing from him. On the lyrics, he get busy, straight up.”
Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage