Fourteen years ago today, someone murdered Biggie Smalls. It's a sad anniversary, but it's a terrific occasion to look back on the incredible, incredible talent he was. And as we were sifting through our favorite MP3s, it hit us—the man was surrounded by electronics. Below, our favorite of Biggie's tech lyrics:
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
When I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this
50 inch screen, money green leather sofa
Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur
The dude undeniably loved videogames. And, almost two decades ago, he loved playing them on giant TVs, just like us. Also interesting to think about the fact that many of us have larger TVs than one of the most successful rappers of all time. But some things never change! Except the Genesis part. It seemed he was, however, impartial between console makers:
You wanna sip Mo' on my living room flo'
Play Nintendo with Cease-a-Leo
Pick up my phone say, "Poppa not home"
Sex all night, mad head in the morn'
Clearly Biggie's late evening videogaming sessions yielded different results than mine, but, hey, an inspiration to us all.
Going Back to Cali
Cali got gunplay, models on the runway
Scream Biggie Biggie gimme One More Chance
I be whippin' on the freeway, the NYC way
On the celly-celly with my homeboy Lance
Though Biggie lived dangerously, driving while on the phone usually isn't ranked among high brashest exploits. Furthermore, there weren't even laws against it back then.
But the cell wasn't just for (RISKILY) yakking with Lance—it seems like it was kind of a pain in the ass, really:
Can I Get Witcha
It look about a hundred-and-two
It's a Saturday and Biggie ain't got nothin' to do
Uhh, I'm intrrupted by a phone ring
Sometimes I wish I never got the motherfuckin' thing
I know how you felt, man. It seems like, Lance aside, Biggie sort of hated digital attention. It was a bother then just like it was now. Case in point:
Who the fuck is this?
Pagin' me at 5:46 in the mornin' crack a dawnin'
Now I'm yawnin', wipe the cold out my eye
See who's this pagin' me and why...
Turns out he's getting paged to warn him of an impending murder attempt, but still. 5:46 am! That shit is inconsiderate!
It's funny, also, to think about something as ghostly gone and enormously obsolete as the pager—sometimes it's only when listening to an old song like this that you remember these relics ever existed. But the pager was ubiquitous—alarmingly, even kids started to be able to afford them, Biggie noticed:
Things Done Changed
And now the shit's gettin crazier and major
Kids younger than me, they got the Sky Grand Pagers
I feel the same way when I see a 12 year old with an iPhone. But our forgotten antiques were his gadget toys. Another one on the list? Film photography:
I Got a Story to Tell
Picture that, with a Kodak, Insta-ma-tak
We don't get down like that, lay my game down quite flat
Sweetness, where you parked at?
The Kodak Instamatic! Hugely cheap, wildly popular, and phased out in the 80s—just in time for Biggie to be part of a generation exposed to low cost point-and-shooting. So it's not wonder the dinky cameras found their way into his head years later.
For someone as lyrically obsessed with money—how to get it, what to do with it, and what it does to you—it's no surprise that Biggie's lyrics are littered with references like these. He was living, however briefly, in an age when consumer electronics were booming broader than ever. But, of course, his songs were about a lot more than pagers. So pick your favorite tonight, listen to it on a device Christopher Wallace could have never dreamt of, be glad you're alive, and miss the guy.