Biggie, 17, Freestyling on the Corner
By Chris Gayomali
When I first moved to New York I moved into a creaky 2nd story walk-up right on the outskirts of Bedstuy. Underneath our apartment was a rastafarian record store and an Afrikan hair braiding salon. On the corners adjacent to our block, two fried chicken joints (a Popeye’s and a Crown Fried) stared each other down 24-hours a day through bulletproof glass.
Thirteen years ago to this day, the world saw its last of Biggie. He comes back to life every so often thanks to the internet and our generation’s obsessiveness with filling in the gaps in his short history. For a generation with information literally at their fingertips, any holes in hip-hop’s expansive narrative eat us alive.
I thought it’d be a good day to bring this video back. Here’s a 17-year-old Christopher Smalls, his teenage voice already booming with the matured ferocity he’d eventually be known for. His talent is scary— even in a Tommy Bahama shirt. The guy he dismantles walks away at the end in tears. It’s fun to watch. (verse starts at :45)