J. Period and Crystal Caines Discuss the Notorious B.I.G.’s Art and Legacy
20 years since the senseless murder of the Notorious B.I.G., the late rapper's impact continues to be felt across the musical spectrum. From the Bad Boy Reunion Tour, to the numerous shout-outs from peers like Jay Z and Busta Rhymes, it's not hard to see how Biggie's legacy stretches through contemporary hip-hop. Producer J. Period and rapper/producer Crystal Caines spoke to The Boombox about that legacy; one from the perspective of a sonic guru who has spent time digging through Biggie tracks analytically, the other from the perspective of a young rhymer from NYC who grew up in the shadow of the fallen icon.
"Biggie stood out with his cadences and his storytelling," Caines explains. Born in Harlem in 1991, Crystal Caines was well-versed in Biggie her entire life. "He was brutally honest--there was no other artist who would say 'you look so good i'd suck on ya daddy d---.' [laughs] I'm from Harlem, and I loved the way he made all my Brooklyn friends feel. To this day, everybody wilds out when you shout-out Brooklyn and that was how he made everybody from Brooklyn feel--and everybody from New York, period."
J. Period has paid tribute to B.I.G. via his March 9th mixtape series, and he says it's a joy to honor the legend by reimagining his rhymes in different musical settings. And Biggie's gift makes it easy.
"In my opinion, you can have arguments about who is the greatest and that's one of the fun things to debate as a hip-hop head," says J. Period. "But In my opinion, Biggie is the greatest rapper as far as what I hear as a DJ, producer and remixer. There really is nobody like Biggie when you do remixes. Every other rapper, when you do a remix, you have to adjust their vocals and the cadence when you put it on a different beat. But Biggie is my favorite because he's like syrup. He just falls into the cracks.
"I take some of his classics and flip them on a different beat and shine a new light on how amazing Biggie was and is."
And J. Period remembers the song that especially stood out for him.
"When 'One More Chance/Stay With Me' dropped, I just remember that moment in my life very clearly as it relates to that song," he shares. "I remember driving around and just the feeling of that felt like a whole new thing. I'd been on a Biggie since before, when 'Juicy' and 'Unbelievable' dropped. There are so many records that I love, but 'One More Chance' is tied to my life for sure."
For Crystal, who didn't experience Biggie's era firsthand, it's interesting to compare and contrast the atmosphere in NYC hip-hop from 20 years ago and the current vibe. She still cites B.I.G. as an influence on how she approaches rhyming, but as Biggie himself would say; "Things done changed."
"Back then we had a variety," Caines observes. "Now we don't really have a variety. and nobody is bringing people together like they did back in the day. We had Ruff Ryders, we had Biggie, we had Jay Z and [Roc-A-Fella.] You had so many crews pulling each other in because they all knew each other. It's so different now.
"It was so gutter. Everybody was brutally honest back then. There's some 'Imma be your friend because you do what you do' now, but it's not real. They were gutter back then but they uplifted each other."
J. Period recalls the atmosphere following B.I.G.'s death, and seeing how Brooklyn rallied around the fallen "King of New York."
"I remember very clearly when they had the processional in Brooklyn and they showed it on MTV News," J says. "Although I wasn't there at the time, just when the peolpe get on the cars and it was just the best sendoff."
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