16 Songs, 28 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

There’s a belief long held by rap traditionalists that real MCs can flow over anything. The Notorious B.I.G. was many things—prodigious musician, style icon, Brooklyn diplomat—but he was nothing if not a real MC. His rhyme style was dense and verbose, but over the course of his too-short career, he delivered flows in a multitude of ranges and BPMs. In the 22 years since his passing, one of Biggie’s most cherished collaborators, DJ Mister Cee—producer and former on-air radio personality for NYC’s Hot 97—has done everything in his power to uphold the rapper’s legacy, including celebrating him on March 9 (the anniversary of his death) by way of tribute mixes and parties. This year, Cee tapped friend and collaborator DJ Snicka for Biggie Blends 2019, a project fashioned in the image of classic “blend tapes,” laying B.I.G. vocals over the instrumentals of modern-day hits for something even greater than the sum of its parts. Cee spoke to Apple Music about working with Snicka, the “lost art” of the hip-hop blend, and what being a keeper of B.I.G.’s legacy means to him.

When I was on Hot 97 years ago, every year after Biggie passed, I always made it my business to do a musical tribute—March 9 became a celebration of life. What Snicka brought to the table is putting Biggie to a current record that's a smash: Biggie rapping on A Boogie's “Look Back at It”—it wouldn't mean as much if he was rapping to a record that wasn't a hit. That's the other thing we try to concentrate on: Let’s put Biggie on the biggest-responding records that the kids or people that love hip-hop right now like. It's expected because you're hearing a hit record, but it's unexpected because you're not thinking that Biggie is gonna rhyme on the record. I live for stuff like that because it also separates me from other DJs. So I get to these clubs and I'm playing with DJs and they come running to the booth with they necks sticking out looking at my laptop trying to see what it is.

The whole narrative is to show people that no matter what era of hip-hop we're in, somebody as great as Biggie can still fit right in. No matter if he's on the original version of “Mo Money, Mo Problems” or if that vocal was mixed in with a new record. His vocals still stand the test of time.

This year is a good year. Two years ago, me and Lil' Cease went to Europe for the 20th anniversary of his passing, and that was great. We went to five countries in eight days or something like that, just to see the love overseas. That was a great thing. This year, I'm looking forward to the whole weekend, especially with March 9 falling on a Saturday. Between myself and Lil' Cease and Biggie's daughter, T’yanna, we're just doing anything we can to keep his name alive.

EDITORS’ NOTES

There’s a belief long held by rap traditionalists that real MCs can flow over anything. The Notorious B.I.G. was many things—prodigious musician, style icon, Brooklyn diplomat—but he was nothing if not a real MC. His rhyme style was dense and verbose, but over the course of his too-short career, he delivered flows in a multitude of ranges and BPMs. In the 22 years since his passing, one of Biggie’s most cherished collaborators, DJ Mister Cee—producer and former on-air radio personality for NYC’s Hot 97—has done everything in his power to uphold the rapper’s legacy, including celebrating him on March 9 (the anniversary of his death) by way of tribute mixes and parties. This year, Cee tapped friend and collaborator DJ Snicka for Biggie Blends 2019, a project fashioned in the image of classic “blend tapes,” laying B.I.G. vocals over the instrumentals of modern-day hits for something even greater than the sum of its parts. Cee spoke to Apple Music about working with Snicka, the “lost art” of the hip-hop blend, and what being a keeper of B.I.G.’s legacy means to him.

When I was on Hot 97 years ago, every year after Biggie passed, I always made it my business to do a musical tribute—March 9 became a celebration of life. What Snicka brought to the table is putting Biggie to a current record that's a smash: Biggie rapping on A Boogie's “Look Back at It”—it wouldn't mean as much if he was rapping to a record that wasn't a hit. That's the other thing we try to concentrate on: Let’s put Biggie on the biggest-responding records that the kids or people that love hip-hop right now like. It's expected because you're hearing a hit record, but it's unexpected because you're not thinking that Biggie is gonna rhyme on the record. I live for stuff like that because it also separates me from other DJs. So I get to these clubs and I'm playing with DJs and they come running to the booth with they necks sticking out looking at my laptop trying to see what it is.

The whole narrative is to show people that no matter what era of hip-hop we're in, somebody as great as Biggie can still fit right in. No matter if he's on the original version of “Mo Money, Mo Problems” or if that vocal was mixed in with a new record. His vocals still stand the test of time.

This year is a good year. Two years ago, me and Lil' Cease went to Europe for the 20th anniversary of his passing, and that was great. We went to five countries in eight days or something like that, just to see the love overseas. That was a great thing. This year, I'm looking forward to the whole weekend, especially with March 9 falling on a Saturday. Between myself and Lil' Cease and Biggie's daughter, T’yanna, we're just doing anything we can to keep his name alive.

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