On the anniversary of Biggie's death, one of my favorite food writers Francis Lam connects the dots between hip hop and food.
I didn't think much of Biggie Smalls while he was alive. He had a few hits, he had ridiculous sunglasses, he was the opposite of a handsome man and he rapped about his girl-stealing suavity with a mushy mouth. But after he died, after I wondered why there were marches in the street for him, after my friend Eric handed me a cassette with the words "Best of Big" scrawled on the label, I came to love him, in that way where the best artists become, you hope, a part of you. He rapped about the life of a street hustler-turned-playboy, about blunts and broads and sex in expensive cars, but along the way he taught me who I would be as a writer on food.
A collection of Biggie's finest food rhymes
Biggie was a funny man, and he mastered the silliness of sex and food. Back to "Juicy":
The Moet and Alizé keep me pissy
Girls used to diss me
Now they write letters 'cause they miss me
I never thought it could happen, this rappin' stuff
I was too used to packin' gats and stuff
Now honies play me close like butter played toast
From the Mississippi down to the East Coast
And he built a legacy in masterpieces of carnal seduction like "Big Poppa":
We can rendezvous at the bar around two.
Plans to leave, throw the keys to Lil' Cease.
Pull the truck up front and roll up the next blunt,
So we can steam on the way to the telly. Go fill my belly –
A T-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch's grape.
Conversate for a few, 'cause in a few, we gon' do what we came to do.
Ain't that right, Boo? (True.)
I mean, if he can make your girl leave you for that level of romance, what couldn't he do? Outside of sex appeal (when "b**ches used to go, 'Ewww!'") Biggie also rapped often about his fabulous wealth, invoking culinary luxuries, like here, in "Hypnotize":
I can fill ya wit real millionaire shit: escargot.
My car go
160, swiftly. Wreck it, buy a new one –
Your crew run run run; your crew run run.
And just imagine him, all 300-plus pounds, lazy eye and top hat, rollin' through his English gardens, contemplating seafood as he does in "I Love the Dough":
Country house, tennis courts, and horseback
Ridin', decidin': cracked crab or lobster?
Who says mobsters don't prosper?
Read the full post here.