dream hampton Remembers the Day Notorious B.I.G. Died
The death of Notorious B.I.G. on March 9, 1997 was one of the hardest days hip-hop had to endure. However, for Biggie’s best friend and longtime confidant dream hampton, it was much harder. The then editor-in-chief of Rap Pages magazine and scribe for the likes of The Source, Village Voice and VIBE, among others, has since gone on to direct the ‘Black August’ documentary, as well as co-write ‘Decoded’ with Jay-Z. Despite the fact that Biggie passed away 14 years ago, dream recounts his death as though it happened yesterday. Here is dream hampton’s first-hand account of the day before and after Biggie was tragically shot and killed.
March 8th, 1997. “I was mad at [B.I.G.] about something, but I still took him the issue of Rap Pages. That Rap Pages cover is of course the iconic one — if I can say so myself — Barron Claiborne shot of him in the crown. I was mad at him; You know what it was? He made me do the article. He kept standing up my writer Darrell Dawsey; I didn’t want to do the Biggie piece. That ended up being a piece I had to write overnight. The magazine was the crown picture, which I fought with Puff over. Puff said it looked like Burger King, but Biggie liked it and I think [Biggie’s Manager] Mark Pitts liked it. I went over to his hotel in Westwood [California]. He had been kicked out of the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for fighting with Charli [Baltimore]. I hadn’t even been to his room, but for some reason I had the information. I was on my way home to pick up my daughter from her sitter after work at Rap Pages, and I had the cover, and I slipped it under his door.
I knew that he was going to be at the Soul Train Awards. I wasn’t going; I had to interview the next day with Pedro [Zamora]’s boyfriend, Sean in Atlanta. Remember Pedro from the ‘Real World’ on MTV? I had done a piece for Poz magazine, which is a magazine for HIV-positive men, well, mostly men. I had done an article about the Red Hot & Rap. I had reviewed that for them, and they had me go to profile Sean for my second article for that magazine, so I had an early morning flight to Atlanta. I didn’t feel like going out. L.A. is not like New York, where you just throw on some jeans and really fresh shoes and wear your hair however. L.A. is like, be dressed. I didn’t feel like all that s—, so I didn’t go.”
March 9th, 1997. “I don’t really want to talk about those early morning hours. Of course I left and I met with [Biggie’s best friend] D-Rock and went to see the sight and all that. I went home and slept that morning, and his mom [Voletta Wallace] was coming in that afternoon. That story that I’ve told in the ‘VIBE: History of Hip-Hop’ book happened in the afternoon. What happened was, they were in the hotel room trying to get the room ready for Ms. Wallace. There was dirty women’s lingerie, there was weed; I mean it was Biggie’s room. I remember we were trying to clean it up. Rock flipped out over a pair of white gators. He was like, ‘I f—in’ always hated these shoes!’ It was like a big ass pair of white gators and a little pair of white gators. They were Lil’ Cease and Biggie’s gators they got when I took them gator shopping in Detroit. I brought over some Roscoe’s [Chicken and Waffles] because it had been all day and night and no one had eaten. I don’t remember if anyone even touched the food. I remember I brought over like nine different dinners from Roscoe’s.
That was around when D-Rock finally broke down and cried and said the thing about one ass bullet. He said, ‘I know mad n—-s been shot and this n—- died from one ass bullet.’ He just finally cried; he sat down on the couch and started crying, which I think was the first time he cried during that whole 24-hour period. A couple hours later Cease put his arm through the window. From the very beginning they were getting calls from New York like, ‘Y’all n—-s ain’t s—. Don’t come back here, y’all couldn’t protect this n—-.’ Of course there were condolences and that was the majority of the calls, but there were definitely some calls from Brooklyn that upset Cease in particular about the responsibility for being his safety and having failed at that. So that was that. By the time Ms. Wallace got there, I had left. I had to start getting ready. We were all trying to get out of L.A. to get to the funeral. It was a crazy 24 hours.”
Biggie’s murder remains a mystery to this day. In January, it was reported that the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating new evidence that might finally close the unsolved case. Biggie only recorded two solo studio albums — the cryptically-titled ‘Ready to Die’ and ‘Life After Death’ — before his death at age 24, the latter of which was released just three weeks after his death.
Watch Biggie’s ‘Big Poppa’