Fri 9 Mar 2012
Paying tribute to the 15th anniversary of Notorious BIG’s death, Mikey had the chance to interview Cheo Hodari Coker, the writer behind Biggie’s film, NOTORIOUS. As one of the few people who had a working and personal relationship with BIG, Coker shared further details on who the rap legend was as a person, and how he had different sides to him depending on his mood.
VIBE: It seems like Biggie knew people from all walks of life but wasn’t one to brag about knowing “this person and that person.”
COKER: Big was incredibly sophisticated and he would show different sides depending on how he felt. But I remember on one of our last interviews it bugged me out cause I told him that he looked just like this Jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut and he starts laughing, and I’m like ‘why is that funny and he’s like ‘I know Cyrus.’ The reason he knew Cyrus was because Donald Harrison was one of BIG’s early mentors and lived right around the corner. So people like Brandford Marsalis and Terrance Blanchard and Cyrus Chestnut and all these people would come to Donald’s place and jam all the time. So Big knew about Jazz and knew those guys. I thought it was funny because it wasn’t like Cyrus was a really well known jazz artist at the time but it was funny when we had that conversation.
More excerpts from the VIBE interview and Complex’s Interview: Former L.A.P.D. Detective Says He Knows Who Killed The Notorious B.I.G. after the jump...
VIBE: So how real was The Commission… how close were they to making that group happen? Well I talked to Dame Dash about it once and Dame said the plan was that when BIG’s Bad Boy contract was up, there was talk of them really doing Big, Jay-z, Charlie Baltimore, and I think one or two other MC’s under that are coming into my head, and the plan I think was for it be on Roc-A-Fella. Not necessarily that BIG was going to leave Bad Boy but more like BIG was going to branch out.
VIBE: Do you think at that time he really could even envision himself being an internationally known superstar and hip-hop icon?
COKER: I think Big would be bugged out about the fact that Jay-Z is bringing basketball back to Brooklyn and building arenas and you know hanging out in England and getting incredible feats of inauguration, all the stuff that Jay is doing. I think to a certain extent, Jay, who had a lot of love for Big, I think he had a little friendly competition with Big but also looked up to him. I think that’s one of the reasons that he constantly references Big because he kind of looked up to him as someone who pulled around his weight and made it as an MC before he did. So they had a lot of love between ‘em and actually right up until Big got killed they would talk on a daily basis.
VIBE: Man, he had so many different sides to him.
COKER: Yeah. It was always interesting for me. The few times that I’ve been around CJ and Tionna I was constantly reminded of the last conversation that he and I had. It was actually before I became a father myself and when BIG talked how he wanted to take them to school and he wanted to be there at their graduations, he wanted to give a his daughter away at a wedding. That was what that the last conversation we had.
VIBE: That’s crazy, that’s so far from how people want to remember BIG.
COKER: Yeah. The last conversation we had was around the Soul Train Awards in ’95. We talked Friday night and he was staying at the Westwood Marquis, which is now the W Hotel in Westwood. I’m laughing cause we had a great conversation. He was sitting there… he had a really big bear belly and he had a plate with pizza on it, and it was balanced perfectly on his belly, he didn’t even have to balance it ,he could use the top of his belly as a table. So he was just eating and we were just talking. What was funny at the time was that they were so paranoid about Life after Death leaking that they wouldn’t let me hear any music. So the only thing I ever heard from Life after Death was “Hypnotize,” which I got to admit I liked it but I didn’t love it.
We kept talking about his early years. Talking about his childhood, we ended up talking about his nonexistent relationship with his father. We ended up talking about fatherhood, his beliefs in God, his relationship with his mother,and how he got started in the crack game, all these things. Virtually every single thing that you would ask somebody before you wrote a book I ended up talking to him for about 5 hours in separate conversations.
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