8-10 WEST 19th St., NYC. I enter the building through a narrow hallway, step into the elevator and press nine. The elevator door slides open and there is a glass door in front of me leading to the reception area. On the entire wall to the right in big block letters is inscribed, “Don’t be afraid to close your eyes and dream, then open them and see.”— Sean “Puffy” Combs
I enter Bad Boy Records office. There’s music playing, Look up in the sky, it’s a bird it’s a plane/ Nah, it’s Mary J, ain’t a damn thing changed. I step to the reception desk while phones are ringing, deliveries are coming in and out and aspiring artists sitting in the lobby wait to have their music heard. Street team members are loading up with music, postcards, posters, tape and staplers like Rambo loading up ammo for his final battle.
I knew right then this was not just a record label, it was a movement. An hour later, after Puff played me the entire Ready to Die album for the first time, I realized who would be delivering Bad Boy’s message. Even with all the chaos going on at Bad Boy, everyone seemed to know not to come in when Puff was playing the Big album. Hip-hop was about to kick in the door, and Notorious BIG was going to be commander-in-chief. It was June 1994 and, as VP of promotion for Clive Davis at Arista Records, I was one of only a handful that got to hear Ready To Die early. As I left the office, passing Puff’s credo, he handed me an unmastered cassette of the album with two dramatically different songs. I still have it. It was then that it occurred to me how lucky I was to have a chance to work with this person who might just become the greatest rapper of all time.
The next two years of my life would be filled with amazing moments with Big. From the first time I saw him perform, to the first West Coast road trip, to seeing him headline the KMEL Summer Jam that following year. I could go on for hours about those moments—and I will with anyone who asks! These are some moments I’d like to share, moments that, for me, define who Big was.