1997 – “Sky’s the Limit,” music video directed by Spike Jonze
As of today, it’s been 16 years since rapper the Notorious B.I.G. passed away, after he was shot and killed in Los Angeles. The murder that has yet to be solved, which is infuriating. Hip-hop has moved on, grafting endless tributes to one of the greatest to ever do it, learning something resembling a lesson about off-the-mic beef, and most importantly, locating endless ways to dig up his corpse and cash-out a little bit.
The three biggest “Biggie’s dead” products (George Tillman Jr.’s biopic Notorious, and the posthumous albums Born Again and Duets: The Final Chapter) aren’t included on this list because they mostly just freeze the rapper in time. What’s far more interesting are those moments when hip-hop — or better yet, some canny, obnoxious, occasionally well-meaning outsider — takes something from B.I.G. and uses it for themselves with little regard for legacy or context, a frame around their big Hollywood movie, a guttural snippet in their ghettohouse banger, or hey, to sell some new weird new burrito!
This is the ridiculous, occasionally touching, and totally SMH progression of a rap legend’s legacy. And hey, it stills feels less icky than what’s happened to J. Dilla.