BIGGIE SMALLS INTERVIEW
The following interview with Biggie was conducted on February 14,1997, about three weeks before he was killed. He was in L.A. then finishing up work on the 'Hypnotize' video. He and Sam Logan, the interviewer kicked it for around 30 minutes. Although his discussion was up for anything, they chose to focus and talk about his future. Things like the 'Life After Death' album, his son C.J., his now calm lifestyle as opposed to the wild lifestyle when he first came out, and his business deals that were just coming into realization. Biggie had plans... big plans before his life was snatched away. Now, we can only wonder what would have been....
Sam: I didn't think you made it out to LA too much?
Biggie: I mean you know I try to do my thing. I gotta get my money (laughs).
Sam: Where ever the money takes you huh?
Biggie: Gotta do my thing! What's going on there in D.C.?
Sam: It was snowing last night. Kinda cold here today.
Biggie: Oh, it's ninety degrees here. It's a beautiful thang!
Sam: Yea I'll bet it is. So when you headed back on the east coast?
Biggie: I mean... I don't know. I'm shooting my video out here too.
Sam: Oh Yeah!!
Biggie: Yeah, for my first single 'Hypnotize.'
Sam: Well enjoy yourself... soak up some sun.
Biggie: (laughs) Well maybe not the sun part; but I'm definitely gonna enjoy myself.
Sam: So let's talk about the album. What's it called?
Biggie: 'Life After Death' that's the name.
Sam: Okay, with the first album hittin off so big and so well... what did it sell 4 million?
Biggie: (laughs) Nah man not that much! We only went 2 million.
Sam: Two mill is that all?
Biggie: That's all
Sam: Well ya know it seemed like four million... the way it wasall over the radio... the way it was marketed.
Biggie: Hopefully, we'll hit it this year.
Sam: Did You feel you had to put a whole lot of time and effort to make sure everything was definitely right for this album. There's a lot of pressure cause people are lookin at ya wonderin if this one is as good as the last one.
Biggie: You gotta put 100% into everything you do. At the same time, I sit back and see so many other people with their sophomore projects and they be kinda (pauses) well ya know a little bit (quivering voice) shaakey!
Sam: Kinda weak and shakey.
Biggie: Yeah, a little (quivering voice) shaakey... I don't wanna be part of that shakey crew. I wanna be a part of that Boyz II Men... TLC type... come out with their second albums that blow up to a magnitude that no one expects. I wanna take two million and make it look like six million ya know?
Sam: You guys were definitely on your jobs the first time around. So what was it like working on this album? What was different from working on the first one?
Biggie: There's a lot of things different. It was a lot more comfortable. I wasn't broke! (laughs) It was a lot more comfortable. At the same time, on my first album I only did one song with somebody else... that was the Method Man track...
Sam: ...Yea, yea, 'The What'
Biggie: But this new album I gotta lot of guest appearances with R. Kelly, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Too Short, Jay-Z, Angela Winbush, 112...
Biggie: Yeah, I gotta lot of people on the joint that came to represent.
Sam: So I know the production is tight. Who you got on there?
Biggie: Puffy... and he got a new team of producers called the Hitmen. They came and did a lot of tight work. I got to work with RZA from Wu Tang, Kay Gee from Naughty By Nature, Clark Kent, Easy Mo Bee of course, DJ Premier of course, Havoc from Mob Deep. We got some tight beats.
Sam: Everybody's just waitin... lookin for it man... if all things work out right, this could be a very good year for Bad Boy. You got your album then Puffy's comin out in...
Biggie: ...In May. That album is somethin nobody's expectin'. Of course his trademark and longevity of makin' hits is extended. He do his thing. Him rappin is something completely different but it's sooo tight. So tight. ...If he put a 100% into an artist, you can imagine what his project is gonna sound like.
Sam: That guy (Puffy) is amazing. What's it like working with him? I mean the guy's got the marketing technique down to a science.
Biggie: The thing about Puff-- sleep. You never sleep. Always keep doing what you gotta do. Flood the market. If it's hot make everybody know it's hot. ...He sat me down and asked me 'Do you wanna be a gold artist that's strugglin?' or 'Do you wanna be a multi-platinum artist that's livin' good and takin care of his family?' ...He taught me the game. That you can please your people/partners and at the same time please other people all over.
Sam: How has your life changed? Your privacy... you're well known now. What can't you do that you used to do?
Biggie: I mean everything's a lot more smoother. It's just calm. IN the beginning, I had the typical attitude of a young rapper makin money... ya know I was the partyin guy... I was the guy wit the girls... all the extra that came wit the game.
Sam: (laughing) What's wrong wit dat?
Biggie: Yeah, but it's up to the artist to know when to say when. You can't live that kind of lifestyle forever. ...I learn from the other people's mistake. I know when to say no. You learn to make the right decisions and pick the right choices. That's all that's really changed.
Sam: You know talkin wit you learnin' your personality... sounds like you've grown a lot mentally in the last couple of years. You really got control of shit; it's not just Puffy callin all the shots.
Biggie: At the same time, he do call a lot of the shots. I mean he's the boss; you gotta listen to what your boss tells you to do; but I just try and have as much input in the work as I possibly can. I mean I can't tell Puffy (with his successful track record) how to do what he's doing. It just so happens most of my ideas he likes. So everything blends into our vision.
Sam: You ever think about longevity. How you plan to strategically survive over a long period of time like a LL Cool J or Queen Latifah?
Biggie: I already sat myself down and said I didn't want to be the thirty year old rapper waitin for an advance on the record deal. So I'm gonna take my money and do something with it. ...Have something to fall back on. If the acting and the movies... if all that comes into play... if it's something I think I can handle... hey, I've always been wit a a challenge. I'll try anything once.
Sam: You got any business ventures right now that you got stakes in?
Biggie: Right now we're workin on the Big Poppa's Chicken and Waffle Shop that set to open in NY at the end of the summer. Also trying to get in conjunction with Heavy D and start up this Big and Heavy Big Men's Store. ...Cause I mean there's big guys with money too ...why neglect us? ...And Puff's restaurant Justin's, I'm tryin to be a partner in that. ...I'm tryin to get a strip joint in Atlanta....
Sam: Strip joint!?!?!
Biggie: Yea, ...I mean ya know we gotta do something for the fellas (laughs). ...And of course, I got my artists Lil Kim... her album is doing great... then there's Little Ceas who's comin out in September. So I'm managing the; they're on my label Undeas with my partner Lance.
Sam: You're a busy man.
Biggie: I try to be.
Sam: So when do you find time with your kids?
Biggie: ...It's hard but I try my best. I grew up an only child. My mother went to school in the morning to work in the evening and to school at night. So me just being able to run around, it leads into a lot of things. I never had a father figure. And my mother being from Jamaica, she wasn't hip to the street. ...She couldn't really tell why she didn't want me in the street. She just knew she didn't want me in the streets. ...And it left my curiosity open. So I'm definitely tryin to be a father and let my kids know why they should be doin things. Even though their mother will tell 'em, hearin it from a father will tighten it up a little bit.
Sam: You'll be goin on tour soon right?
Biggie: The tour starts in May. Suppose to be me, Puffy, the Goodfellaz, Lil Kim, Lil Ceas, 112, and the the way it's looking Mary (Blige) also. I think that'll be a bomb tour!
Sam: Most definitely, most definitely. ...And I know ya'll be through D.C. around nine or ten times!
Biggie: Ahhhh, man D.C.!!! How many nights have I went to the Ritz, got drunk, and just got on the mic, and just... do some things man!?!?
Sam: Any Particular woman in your life right now?
Biggie: Who Me? Naaaaa just chillin... Tryin to get life together. That was one of my mistakes early on in my career just movin so fast... goin to fast. ...And sometimes that speedin will lead to a hard crash... you gotta know when to press the brakes. I'm pressin the brakes.
Sam: It sounds like you on the right track man. I know you'll sell as many if not more than the last album.
Biggie: Hey that's all I'm tryin to do man!!! Everything I did in the last two and a half years... if I could do it another two and a half years, I'm good to go! The album is tight!!!
Sam: What do you do to get away from it all?
Biggie: Aw man just relax... get in the crib, watch some movies, hang out with my man Jay-Z. Things everybody else do. ...I cant really run up in the malls like I used to.
Sam: Awright man, I aint got too much more. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you wish I would've asked you?
Biggie: How about when am I gonna come out with some Go-Go?
Sam: Oh Really!! Hey, hey don't mess with the people in D.C. like dat. If I print this, they gonna be lookin for it!
Biggie: Listen I told you I like to dabble!! I feel it... I'm the type person I can rhyme to anything. Just give me a hot beat that everybody's lovin and I'll find a flow to it. I'm really tryin to jump on that. I just need to get something real, real funky. I'm gonna give it a try; you may hear something this spring ...this summer.
Sam: Well listen man it's been a pleasure; keep doin what you do; take care of yourself; and I'll see you when you come through town.
Biggie: All right playa.
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