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Has Technology Ruined Music?

March 24, 2011

One of the trademark complaints of older generations of music fans is that today’s music is created on a computer, or “ripped off” from the music of previous generations. Of course, the “young people don’t respect nothing” argument has been around since the days of Ancient Rome, and that is a different topic altogether. The specific point made, however, is something I often ponder. Is today’s music even music?

Like most things in this world, this is not a black and white issue. While I believe there are some major drawbacks to computer-generated music, I also believe it has opened the door for creative, out-of-the-box artists to make new and exciting music. Sampling old songs, as long as it is done with the original artist’s permission, is not only a great way to make fresh music but also introduces younger generation to great music from the past. For instance, I world never have gotten into Sam Cooke had I not heard Papoose’s sampling of “A Change is Gonna Come” on “50 Shots.” That would be a real shame, as I consider Cooke to be one of the greatest recording artists ever. Music is meant to bring people together, and electronically incorporated samples can bridge generational gaps.

One thing that should be made clear: studio production is not exclusive to hip-hop, and had been around way before DJ Kool Herc spun his first record at a South Bronx birthday bash. Songs like Ray Charles’ classic “I Believe to My Soul” was recorded using over-dubs, as was Bruce Springsteen’s title track from “Born to Run.” Even today, artists of various genres use electronically enhanced sounds to create music. Many producers have extensive music knowledge and talent, and some can even play musical instruments. Think about it: who in their right mind would say DJ Premier isn’t a creative genius because he doesn’t play guitar?

I do realize that technology has the possibility to induce laziness. A lot of artists today are e-mailed “beats” and then record lyrics to them. This is a major flaw in the music making process. Jay-Z once said that he never records a song unless the producer is in the studio with him, because face-to-face collaboration can change and improve the entire direction of a song. Another problem with technologically enhanced music is that some of it is entirely created synthetically. However, there are still many artists who record with live instruments or incorporate them into production.

Don’t get me wrong; I have great respect for musicians. It takes extraordinary skill to play an instrument. However, this does not make producers- especially those who collaborate with a team of knowledgeable engineers in an honest effort to create great music- inferior to musicians in any way.

In a previous article on this site, I predicted that as record sales decline, artists who can put on a great live show will be more financially successful than those who rely on the likes of auto-tune and synth beats. Still, there are those who use sound systems to put on excellent concerts. All in all, I feel that, despite its drawbacks from studio-production generally has improved the quality of music. I look forward to more creativity and innovation by producers and musicians alike in the future.

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The Ten Greatest Albums I’ve Ever Heard

March 23, 2011

Although in my “Coming Up…” post, I mentioned that I would be doing a 2nd quarter preview and a producers vs. musicians editorial, I’ve decided to hold off on those for a few days because I’ve been itching to post a list. Creating lists of the greatest movies, athletes, albums, songs, etc. has been one of my favorite pastimes for years. This specific list was created after years of carefully listening to a wide variety of albums. I added “I’ve Ever Heard” because I am sure that there are albums out there that I might consider to be better than the ten I have selected if I were to hear them. This is a greatest list, meaning that these are not my ten favorite albums, but the ones that I believe to be the best I’ve ever heard. Read on as I count down the greatest albums I’ve ever heard.

*All images were acquired from Google Images

10. Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.- 1988

This album changed music forever. Never before had violence, sex, and drugs been so graphically portrayed on an album. Suburban moms hit the roof. Law enforcement officials went nuts. N.W.A. even got a letter from the F.B.I. Still, the album that went platinum without a single or any hype remains to this day one of the grimiest works of art of the 20th century.

9. Thriller by Michael Jackson- 1982

It’s easy for me to roll my eyes at the mere mention of this album, due to the constant references of it from other artists in music and the hero-worship of Jackson since his passing. Still, the album itself is an undeniable masterpiece. Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, and Eddie Van Halen all chipped in to help the King of Pop create his magnum opus.

8. Abbey Road by The Beatles- 1969

Although I still hold in contention that many music fans tend to have a romanticized view of everything The Beatles ever recorded, I cannot deny that Abbey Road is remarkably creative. Every member of the band simultaneously shines individually while also working together to make sure that the album is greater than the sum of its parts. The medley on the second half of the album is nothing short of epic.

7. Illmatic by NaS- 1994

This album, recorded when NaS was just 19 years old, remains the greatest hip-hop album ever released. Backed by masterful production from the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, and Q-Tip, NaS uses detailed imagery and excellent rhyming skills to portray life in the Queensbridge projects in a brilliantly crafted masterpiece. And he did it all with only one guest appearance (a young, focused AZ on “Life’s a Bitch).

6. Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 by Sam Cooke- 1985

While most casual listeners will remember Sam Cooke as the man behind the legendary “A Change is Gonna Come,” the man with the golden voice secretly longed to sing soul music the way it was meant to be. He got his chance in this Florida nightclub, where he was free from the reigns of having to croon for a white audience. As a result, his voice is raspy and soulful, and he works the crowd beautifully. The band backing him does in excellent job in helping create a raucous, soulful environment. Although it was recorded in ’63, it wasn’t released until 1985, 21 years after his death.

5. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan- 1975

Dylan was a poet. He was an excellent musician. His voice, though polarizing, sounding like nothing else in music. Never did all these amazing elements of his mesh into anything as great this album, which showcased Dylan at his best both musically and lyrically. Although most people remember “Tangled Up in Blue” from this album, hidden gems include “You’re a Big Girl Now” and “Idiot Wind.”

4. At San Quentin by Johnny Cash- 1969

Most people remember At Folsom Prison as Cash’s greatest live album, mostly because Folsom Prison itself was the source of inspiration for Cash’s hit, “Folsom Prison Blues.” At San Quentin, however, is just as energetic and just as powerful, but with an added treat: Cash performed, for the first time ever, the Shel Silverstein-penned “A Boy Named Sue” for the San Quentin inmates.

3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen- 1975

The Boss and co. worked their tails off, trying so hard to create a timeless record. Tales of last chances, broken dreams and Jersey girls added nostalgia and heart into an album that Springsteen clearly poured his blood, sweat, and tears into. The result is just want he and his E-street band so badly wanted: a classic for the ages.

2. Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers- 1977

Although presumably titled after one of the songs on the album, the name Exodus probably has double meaning, as it was recorded during Marley’s self-imposed exile from Jamaica to London after an attempt on his life left himself, his wife, and his manager wounded. The result is a brilliant album that is stylistically reggae but contains universally themes of love, peace, and awareness. It is an undisputable classic.

1. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, 1971

After much thought and consideration, I decided that I have never heard an album greater than Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. This album is perfect: it is at once soulful, enjoyable, meaningful, emotional, lyrical, melodic, and intelligent, all in just eight songs. The brevity of this album leaves little room for error, which Gaye fortunately must have realized. It is a flawless work of art that, much like Marley’s Exodus, contains universally themes of love, peace, and awareness, though it also contains turmoil, sadness, and optimism. It is musically brilliant, and Marvin Gaye has never sounded better. Recorded at a very difficult time in his life, one can tell just by listening that he put all he had into this record. Can you believe he had to battle with Motown’s Berry Gordy just to get this album out?

Well, that’s the list. Feel free to tell me where I went wrong or what you liked about it. Peace.

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Music Predictions

March 23, 2011

Being that it has been a week since my last post, I have decided to give everyone three posts over the next three days. This first one consists of ten predictions of what will happen in the music industry in the next ten-12 years. Some are blatantly obvious, while others may be seen as outrageous. Either way, this is my honest assessment of the future of music.

CDs Will Go the Way of Records

CDs have already lost a great deal of importance to those who download torrents or buy music from the iTunes store. Stores such as Best Buy and Target have already greatly reduced their CD selection. Still, stores such as FYE, Exchange, and locally owned music stores carry a wide variety of CDs. For people like me, these stores are a safe haven for those who still love the liner notes and album artwork that go along with the music. However, I believe this will change. As music becomes increasingly digital (some newer artists don’t even bother to put CDs out anymore, opting for exclusively digital releases), CDs will all but fade away. Like 45 records, I predict that CDs will be reduced to sites like Amazon and locally owned music stores in big cities.

“Rap” Will Be Unseated

Ask anyone who tunes in daily to listen to new Top 40 hits on the radio, and they will most likely tell you that rap is one of their favorite genres. However, what they consider to be “rap” is actually more techno-inspired, mainstream pop music (look back at even a mainstream hit like “California Love” and compare it to Wiz Khalifa’s “Roll Up,” and you’ll know what I mean). If one were to look at music trends, they would see that in the ’80s, rock took a turn towards the mainstream pop sound with the glam-rock bands taking over the scene. What happened? A bunch of lower-class artists stepped up with a seemingly obscure genre called “hip-hop.” Three decades prior, rock ‘n roll did the same thing to jazz. Something, and I don’t know what, will take over the airwaves to become the new “in” sound in the next dozen years.

It Better Be Live

As music piracy continues and the younger generation neglects purchasing music, concerts and shows will increasingly become the bread-and-butter of musical acts. Groups like The Dave Matthews Band and The Roots will continue to make a killing off their stellar concerts, while those who rely on the studio-sound will suffer great financial decline in the future.

Smaller Record Labels Will Die Out

Once again, music piracy will continue to have an increasing impact on the industry. Right now, independent labels can survive because people will buy the music. However, as less and less people become consumers, labels will fold, leaving the larger, more corporate-based labels to have a monopoly on the music industry, meaning less creativity, more formulaic, radio-ready music.

Someone Will Break the Mold

It has happened before and it will happen again. Someone will have the balls to go against the larger record labels. It will be very difficult and there will be many obstacles for said person. Still, who can forget when Marvin Gaye broke out of Berry Gordy’s Motown formula to create one of the greatest soul albums of all time? Or what about when Dr. Dre took a chance on some white nobody from Detroit who turned out to be one of the biggest artists of all time? In the end, someone will restore my faith in the music industry.

Pop Music Will Still Dominate

I know, this sounds like a contradiction of my last prediction, but when someone breaks the mold, it is remembered mostly because it is an exception to the cookie-cutter music that dominates the airwaves. Pop music, whether it be pop-rock, pop-country, pop-rap, or any other kind of pop, will continue to be successful.

Economic Issues Will Affect American Artists’ Global Reach

This sounds outrageous, right? America is one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world, right? Things change, and that change affects everything in some way, shape, or form. Right now, America is trillions of dollars in debt, with interest growing every day. I’m not saying America will be overthrown or that we will lose all clout in the global economy, but as other countries in the world progress, I predict American artists won’t be as popular around the rest of the world, simply because America won’t be as popular, either.

Certain People Will Stick

Certain people will be in the music business forever. They are smart, experienced, and just have a great ear for music. For instance, while Dr. Dre might bow out following Detox, he will be around as a producer/executive forever. Any doubters of this prediction need to look no further than 84-year-old Tony Bennett’s stunning rendition of “I Left My Heart in San Fransisco” last fall before a World Series game.

Early Exit

This one is pretty obvious. Drug overdoses, shootings, suicides, and plane/automobile accidents have been a staple of deaths in the music industry. People in the business die of unnatural causes all the time. Sooner than one may think, someone huge will pass on. Who it will be, of course, will remain a mystery.

Music Will Still Be Music

People will argue, debate, listen, not listen, half-listen, go to concerts, reminisce, love, hate, cry, and scream all in the name of music. But it will still be music. And some of it will still be great.

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Album Review: Dropkick Murphys’ Going Out in Style

March 16, 2011

Image acquired from Google Images

The Dropkick Murphys have been a force to be reckoned with for years now, due to their enjoyable mesh of Celtic music and punk rock. However, after a certain amount of time formulas tend to tire, leaving us sadly disappointed. Fortunately, the Murphys’ latest album is anything but disappointing. Their pleasantly familiar sound, coupled with conceptual lyricism, provides yet another brilliant Dropkick Murphys record.

It’s Not Their Final Album

For those of you who are worried that the title suggests they are bowing out, rest easy. The title is named after the second song on the album, which will surely become the Murphys’ newest anthem. Featuring NOFX’s Fat Mike and FX dramedy Rescue Me’s Lenny Clarke, the song speaks of living it up before death. Rather, Going Out in Style is a concept album, centered around a fictional, working-class war veteran named Cornelius Larkin, who is a hodgepodge of the band members’ life experiences.

Hardcore as Ever

Right from the opening drum sequence, it is clear that the Murphys have not lost their edge. The opening song, “Hang ’em High,” sends a message that is loud and clear: “Now lower the cannon, the battle begins!” They still promote themes such as unity, hard work, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Talk of standing up for the little guy is also yet-again present, with songs such as “The Hardest Mile” and “Take ’em Down” being highlights of the album. However, rather than sounding stale, the Murphys’ rowdy optimism and soaring spirit is more than welcome in today’s world. It also helps that it has been four years since their previous studio album, The Meanest of Times.

New-found Maturity?

While they are as rowdy as ever, certain songs suggest that, as the Murphys grow older, they too grow wiser. On “Cruel,” the album’s best song, lead-singer Al Barr laments, “I was young and I thought I knew everything/It’s so hard to change a fool’s mind.” Also, on “Memorial Day,” it is lamented:                                                                                                             

I was young and I wouldn’t hear it
You had opinions I had mine too
Just a kid with all the answers
A pompous pride and not one clue

These sentiments, along with others on the album, suggest that the Murphys are learning as they go along, and getting better with time.

One for the Ladies

No, it’s not “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced.” This one is actually for the ladies. “1953” speaks nostalgically of a man’s true love. The best part is that these rough-necks pull it off convincingly.

The Boss Factor

One of the Murphys’ influences, the legendary Bruce Springsteen, drops by on “Peg o’ my Heart,” an enjoyable tune near the album’s end. He sounds comfortable against the backdrop of the Murphys’ sound, and the song is very well done.

All in All

This album is excellent from start to finish, with no filler or weak links. Their sound is still riotous, fun, and fresh, and it’s nice to see that after all this time they still haven’t forgotten their roots. It is too soon to tell if this will stand the test of time and achieve classic status, but for now I’ll settle on the notion that it is an exceptional album. To sum up the feel of the album, Barr cries, “I could really give a shit, I’m going out in style!”

4.5/5 Merits

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Farewell, Nate Dogg

March 16, 2011

Although I am in the process of reviewing The Dropkick Murphys’ latest album, something happened yesterday that stopped me in my tracks. Celebrity deaths happen every day, and usually I’ll see that it happened, think, “that’s sad,” and move on with my day. However, sometimes a celebrity’s death stops me in my tracks. Yesterday, at the early age of 41, legendary R&B/hip-hop artist  Nate Dogg died of yet unknown causes. However, it was probably due to a stroke, as he has suffered strokes in recent years.

Although Nate Dogg did foray into a solo career, his bread and butter was singing hooks for hip-hop jams. While some had criticized him for being merely a “hook-singer,” I believe that he was an invaluable asset to music who will be sorely missed. Although less present in music in recent years (possibly due to health reasons), Nate Dogg enjoyed a long career being featured on various jams of rap superstars ranging from 2Pac to Dr. Dre to Eminem. He provided hooks on songs ranging from club bangers to love songs to street jams. The bass of his hypnotic voice serenaded listeners for years, and he was a fundamental part of the shimmering G-funk sound so prevalent in the ’90s. This is a sad moment in hip-hop, as we have lost yet another one of the great voices that propelled hip-hop to new heights and exposure.

R.I.P. Nate Dogg; you are already missed.

Photo acquired from Google Images

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1-on-1 With Preemo

March 14, 2011

Photo acquired from Google Images

It’s here, folks. I just got off the phone with underground hip-hop sensation Preemo, who had a lot to say about his music, how he got his name, his focus, and his plans for the future, amongst other things. Special thanks to his publicist for setting up the interview via phone, and to Preemo, himself, for giving me thorough, interesting answers and taking his time to speak with me. It’s refreshing to talk with a man who loves hip-hop so much. Check out the interview below:

What have you been up to lately?

Lately I’ve been working on The Magic Bullet. The latest, it’s kind of a mixtape/album. I recorded that last month in Spokane, Washington. I recorded it there and then I mixed it in Dallas. Also, I linked up with Paul Wall’s road manager, Gu.

In a feature article about you on therapup.net, it was stated that you will be a headache once you figure out what to call yourself, adding that there is only room for one Preemo in hip-hop. How did you come up with that name for yourself, and are you worried that you will suffer backlash for having a name that is the same as DJ Premier’s nickname?

No, not at all. To answer your first question, they used to call me “Slim.” And obviously another “Slim” (Eminem, aka Slim Shady) came out. I came up during that era. I was with a friend of mine and we were going to a club in Mexico and he said I need a new name. Well what happened was, we got in line at the club in Mexico, and it was our turn to go in and the bouncer said “Esperate, primo” (which means, “hold up, cousin” in Spanish). Me and my homeboy we knew. It was just one of those moments, like a light-bulb went off.  Back then nobody was calling Premier “Preemo.” I spelled it p-r-i-m-o, but we found out that it was copyrighted by an Italian company.

Sometimes a rapper can try to be different or conscious, but they become so focused on that goal, they sound preachy and don’t connect with the listener. How do you balance the two? In other words, how can you simultaneously make music that people both respect for its content and play it on repeat in their car?

I’ve gotten to a point, man, that when I write, I’m just so comfortable in my own skin. I don’t sit down and think “what is this person gonna think?” I guess it comes from experience. I kind of know when I’m coming off preachy. Somebody once told me, “Make their head bob first, and then slip in a little truth, and then a little bit more, and then a little bit more.” It’s
like, when you give a baby medicine, you wrap it in food. The one person, or people, that did it better than anybody is Outkast.

Do you have an overall message, or is your focus on making dope music that people can connect with?

I would have to say that it is about the music first and foremost. It’s edutainment. I always liked the way KRS-One spoke on that and presented hip-hop that way. You want to just be free to be yourself and not have any bias or point of view. Who I am as a person reflects who I am as a MC.

Let’s talk about your latest album, Concrete Dreams, for a little bit. I read on houstonpress.com that you stated that you created Concrete Dreams with “one hand behind your back.” What did you mean by that?

Basically, I couldn’t work with the producers that I wanted to work with because of (money issues). I’m talking about people that I know personally. All I had was beats from the homies, a few of them, and I could only afford like a hundred dollars a week (to spend on the album).

How long did it take to record the album?

The recording of the album took two and a half years. The whole thing took three years. I got a little apartment. Where I was staying at the time, there was a studio there. I could have easily just stayed there and did it there. I knew what I had to do. What I had to do was seclude myself and shut everything out and focus.

What songs are you proudest of on Concrete Dreams?

“The Ultimate Truth,” “2020.” You know what, I did 45 songs, and I put my 19 favorite on concrete dreams. So to be honest with you, all of them are my favorite.

In “Pass the Time,” you mention “staring at a blank page” and being “sick of this city.” When you cut yourself off from the world to make Concrete Dreams, was there ever a time you felt like giving up? If so, what kept you going?

Absolutely man, absolutely. What kept me going is just that I wanted it. I had started promoting it on my Myspace page. I put “Concrete Dreams Coming Summer of 2006.” It was still like early in the year and I even put it out thinking I’d have plenty of time.

They had me speak at a high school man, and what I told the kids is like, I’ve been doing this for 16 years. I failed at it for 16 years, over and over and over again. For 16 years I tried (to make undeniable music) and I knew I could still get better. (Making undeniable music) was the ultimate goal for me. Honestly there were over 100 different versions of Concrete Dreams.

New Pistol sports one of the sickest beats I’ve heard in a while. How did that come about?

That’s Charli Brown, man. Charli Brown from New York (created that beat). What I did was, at the last minute, I had my boy add a live baseline over the baseline that was there. I had that beat for like three years before I wrote to it. And it was just the snippet, and I wrote to the snippet. (The album contains) 19 tracks, 17 songs. Out of those 17 songs, only two or three of them were tracked out. The rest of them I did mixtape style, with a stereo two-track to the beat. The engineer that put it together was really phenomenal.

If I wasn’t such a hip-hop head, I would never have come across Concrete Dreams, which is a shame because it is excellent. How do you plan on getting your music out there while staying true to yourself and your style?

You know what? Promotion is key. The amount of hours you dedicate to promotion, having a team in place, marketing; all of that is key. But at the end of the day, my foremost focus, myself, is to make music  so dope that word of mouth is gonna be the biggest part of the whole promotion. I think when you listen to The Magic Bullet you’ll feel me more. I want
to keep raising the bar every time I come out.

Is there anyone well-known in hip-hop right now that you would like to work with in the future?

You know what, man? I just want to work with anybody. I mean, anybody dope. It’s not even about a name right now for me. It’s about dope music. Just give me some dope music, and I’ll write shit to it.

(Being yourself) is key, too, man. That’s key. I spent all this time around people in the industry. All they know is how to follow. All they know is how to try to duplicate a hit.

Your music transcends bland, generic rap to reach the levels of great hip-hop. You took the time to craft an excellent album from start to finish, and you have the skills of a true MC. However, in today’s bubblegum market, are you at all worried about what direction your career is headed in?

Nah, man, because I’m in control of my own situation, man. I’ve done the label thing before, and I’m doing it myself.

A lot of rappers seem to buy into the notion that making money is the ultimate goal on this earth. While you reference money in your songs, it is seldom the main focus. What do you think your purpose in the world is? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish while you’re here?

(Money) has its place, obviously. Everybody could be rapping about pants, and I couldn’t rap about pants. I want to write something different or tell a story or something.

A lot of your songs reference women, though you stray from the stereotypical rap songs that objectify women. What role do women play in your life?

That comes out in Concrete Dreams. I really didn’t see it like (being about women). It took me off-guard (when I heard that). After I listened to the album I could see where (the critic who had said that) was coming from. At that time I was dealing with issues with my mother, my sister, my daughter, and my chick. I think when you hear The Magic Bullet, it’s like, there’s nothing on here about females. There is, but not in the way that you would think because I’m not dealing with that no more.

Every verse I write is very personal, man. I have yet to experience a world where verses become commodities. My verses are like if you write a page in your journal and you know everybody’s gonna read your journal.

What does “keeping it real” mean to you?

I guess keeping it real is being real with yourself. It is a cliché, but all clichés start off as wisdom. It’s just so plain and simple and obvious it becomes a cliché.

Now I’m not trying to pick on any other rappers, but a lot of artists speak about never crossing over or conforming, only to do so a few years later. You, however, have been doing this for a long time and have stayed true to yourself. How do you stand strong and stick to that?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s (just that) I’ve been doing it for so long that if I put some wack shit out there now, it’d be like, “What was all that sacrifice for?” This is the only way I know how to do it. I make some shit that I wanna hear.

You’ve lived all over the place. Why don’t you like to settle into one spot for so long?

It’s just the way I was raised, man. It wasn’t a military thing or anything like that. My stepfather was always looking for bigger and better opportunities. I just got used to that, you know?

Do you think being in so many different places has contributed to your originality regarding your style?

Yeah. I mean, that’s because I’ve only been (here in Houston) since ’05. I’ve been all over the place and been around all different types of places. That has a lot to do with it.

You know I have to ask this one. Who is on your list, in order, of your top five dead-or- alive MCs?

I would have to say 2Pac, Big Pun, Big (The Notorious B.I.G.), Scarface, and NaS.

One more question. What’s next for Preemo?

Pre-K. Preemo and K-Sizzle (who was featured on “Choose Your Adventure” off Concrete Dreams). And after that I’m doing Euros. Euros is gonna be fun. I’m doing collaborations with some cats from overseas. It’s gonna be dope. It’s gonna be really dope.

Thanks so much, man. Your time is much-appreciated.

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An American Tragedy

March 9, 2011

Photo acquired from Google Images

On March 9, 1997, a young man by the name of Christopher Wallace was killed after being gunned down in his car at a traffic light in the early morning. That man was known to the world by his stage name, The Notorious B.I.G. Some called him Biggie Smalls. Some just Big. Some called him awesome. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest MCs to ever breathe on the mic. His gangsta/playboy persona, mixed with his incredible rhyming ability and irresistable flow/delivery propelled him to superstardom in the music industry. After leaving an awards show in the early morning hours to go to a club, Biggie was shot to death while at a red light. He died on the scene.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword,” but only if one were to look exclusively at Biggie’s lyrics. In fact, according to Jay-Z in his memoir Decoded, the Biggie he knew avoided trouble like the plague, not wanting to blow his shot at maintaining a better life than the one he lived while in Brooklyn dealing drugs or in prison writing rhymes.

So, what was the cause of Biggie’s death? Was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Were these assailants from Biggie’s past, looking to settle a score? Evidence suggests otherwise. It is widely speculated (and some even say proven) that Biggie was killed at the hands of crooked police officers on the payroll of Suge Knight, who were later implicated in the infamous Rampart Scandal. Knight certainly had motive, as he believed Biggie and his associates were behind the first assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur.

In fact, a wrongful death lawsuit that was corroborated from the testimonies of Los Angeles police officers claiming that detectives backed off the investigation when it started pointing to fellow police officers. Officer Russell Poole went as far as resigning in protest. In the lawsuit itself, it is stated that Rafael Perez admitted to the planning and participation in the murder of Biggie. Still to this day, no one has ever been charged with the murder of Biggie.

What’s most tragic about this is not that someone was murdered. While that is a terrible occurrence, murders happen every day in this world. What is more alarming to me is that, even faced with hard evidence, the law will not prosecute its own for wrongdoing. In my personal favorite television series, The Shield, Captain Claudette Whymms poses the question: “How can we expect justice out there if we don’t even demand it in our own house?” My sentiments exactly. May the murder be solved, the guilty parties be brought to justice, and may something like this never happen again.

R.I.P. Christopher Wallace. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.