I started working with Big in ’91. I was 21, he was 15. I met him through a friend of mine. They hustled together on Bedford and Quincy. People in the neighborhood knew him as the hottest rapper around. Everybody that stepped in his path, he ate ’em up. He earned that stripe from that one battle he had on Bedford and Quincy. I was the one that was playing the music. This man used to live right upstairs from the pool room. Every day in the summer we’d play the music out. It just so happened that Big came around, so we brought the grill out, we brought the music out. They got on the mic and went at it. It went on from there. Cars stopped, it got real crowded out there. We rocked it ’til 12, one o’clock that night. It was a good look. Everybody that came at his back, he took out.
—DJ 50 Grand
I remember sharing Ntozake Shange with him. She wrote this amazing book called The Love Space Demands. It’s a book of poetry, and there’s an amazing poem in there called “Crack Annie” and its about a crack head selling her daughter, her eight year old for sex, for crack. And I remember him reading it on the train and it just blew me away. He could memorize Ntozake’s fuckin’ 40-verse poem after one read. His mother is a huge reader. And Jamaicans have that British shit, so he knew all that stuff. He read more Charles Dickens than me, for sure. I’m more of a Mark Twain type of girl.
—Dream Hampton, journalist and Biggie’s close friend
The illest memory of Biggie is seeing him so drunk that he was passed out on the corner of his block. Me and my friends was coming from a club one night, this was early, early ’90s, and me and my best friend, Swan Gotti, drove past Fulton Street and we saw this big guy laid out on the hood of a car. And I said, “Who the fuck…?” And I stopped the car because it looked like Big. And Swan said, “I know that ain’t Big.” And I backed up, and sure enough, it was Biggie. He wasn’t laid out like passed out, he was laid out like it was a nice day out and he’s just chilling. That was the finest moment. I swear to god I wish we had YouTube back in the day.
— Buckshot, Brooklyn rapper and co-founder of Duck Down Records
I remember taking them to Sylvia’s [a Harlem soul food restaurant], Puff telling me that he needed me to go with him to convince Big to sign because he wanted Big to sign to Bad Boy, and Biggie needed to know that Bad Boy was connected to Uptown Records and would have all its services and energy and commitment from me. So I went and big-brothered that with Puff. But Puff was the director of Biggie’s movie. Biggie was coming out saying whatever his truth was and Puff knew how to create narration on a visual level.