Southern Hip Hop: No Longer Immune
I was in 11th grade when both ‘Pac (9/13/96) and B.I.G. (3/9/97) died. I can remember what I was doing both days.
That Friday that ‘Pac passed, I was tired as hell from school. I think I had just gotten back from being suspended, so you know teachers like to bombard you with work and attitude when you comeback, so that shit was tiring. So, when I went home, I just took my ass to sleep on the couch. I was supposed to go to work that night, but I didn’t feel like bagging no damn groceries so I lied and called in sick.
While I was sleep, I remembered having a dream. I dreamed that the BET News brief came on and they said “rapper Tupac Shakur is dead at age 25.” At that time, ‘Pac getting shot was big news, but we all figured that he was just gonna pull through, get up, walk out the hospital and spit on camerapeople again. But then I woke up for real, and saw the news brief again and realized that dude was dead for real…damn. One of my best friends called me a little later screaming about it and then he came to my house saying that he had something that I needed to hear. Evidently, after he had heard the news, he got off work, sped to the record store and bought the Supercop soundtrack. Why? Because it had 2Pac & the Outlawz “Made Niggas” on there. We’d thought that we had the last ‘Pac song to be recorded and released so we spent the whole night smoking and riding up and down Candler Rd. pumping that shit back-to-back-t0-back. Eventually, we’d all learn that wasn’t ‘Pac’s last song, hell, he’s still coming out with albums to this day.
The morning I heard B.I.G. died, yeah, I was sleep again (“grindin'” will do that to you) and contemplating if I wanted to go to work. I did this time though. But, I didn’t really have anyone at work to talk to about his passing and his music. By that time I was working at a Wendy’s waaaaaay out in the suburbs with a bunch of Mexicans who didn’t speak any English. If I would have went in there asking “hey, you heard about Biggie?” They probably would have pointed at the menu. The only thing I remember from that morning was the radio station playing the hell out of B.I.G.’s songs, “Hypnotize” and “One More Chance” specifically. It was as if the DJ’s only had those two songs on them at the time. I also remember the Source printing up emergency Biggie covers, unfortunately getting placed on top of what was supposed to be Scarface’s cover. (ain’t it eerily crazy how Pimp C died the day MADE hit stores too)
Like so many impressionable teenagers around that time, I thought that their deaths was behind that East vs. West shit that the media was drumming up. I remember alot of us going around asking “damn, who’s next?” It seemed like it was in the cards for a Southern rapper to die in 1998.
You may not find it funny, but me and a few of my friends thought it was gonna be Master P. One, because he was the biggest shit at the time. Two, because it seemed like he was kinda setting himself up to become the next Hip Hop matyr. You know, he had just came out with a double-album, just like ‘Pac and B.I.G. did before they passed. Plus he went out and recorded a song with Bone, just like ‘Pac and B.I.G. did before they passed. I’m glad we didn’t lose him though.
Up until yesterday, it seemed like Southern Hip Hop had been immune to losing its stars. When I say that, I’m not downplaying the losses of Soulja Slim and key Screwed Up Click members over the years. I’m saying, the South had never lost a poster boy, representative, icon, media figure on the level of ‘Pac and B.I.G. We saw how the world reacted to the passings of ‘Pac and B.I.G., which made us cherish ‘Face/Geto Boys, UGK, Ball & G, ‘Kast, Goodie Mob, 3-6 and countless others even more. Ain’t no telling what direction Southern Hip Hop would have went in if Pimp or any of these guys would have passed 9-10 years ago.
So to seee Pimp die yesterday, yeah, its on that ‘Pac and B.I.G. level, plus some. As a teenager, yeah, you get upset and whatnot, but in your youthfulness you still look forward to the next thing. But hearing that news yesterday, I kinda know how it feels when my pops might open up the paper to see one of his favorite artist during his formative years passing away. I makes you feel a certain way, not necessarily old and scared, but, you know, a little more cautious.
I’m gracious that as a fan and follower, I got to see Pimp C grow in a sense. As ‘Pac and B.I.G.’s fans, we got robbed early. They had careers that didn’t get to even live for more than 5 years. As sad as Pimp’s passing is, we at least got roughly 15 years of what he had to offer. At least people who grew up on his music got to grow up along with him and see his life (as short as it was) develop into another level and actually see him get to enjoy the spoils of all of the hard work and musical trailblazing he did. What Dr. Dre did for West Coast production via-P.Funk elements, Pimp C did the same via-Blues elements.
It probably sounds like I’m rambling now, I guess what I’m trying to get across is that, knowing that Pimp C is gone keeps jumping up and hitting me in the face. Perhaps its harder to grasp because he, like so many of the other forefounders of Southern Hip Hop seemed more touchable than most rappers. If you were a UGK fan, it felt as if you actually knew dude, even if you had never met him at all.
So, just like ‘Pac and B.I.G., I’m gonna remember what I was doing when I heard that Pimp passed. Nah, I wasn’t sleep. I was actually about to post a blog about something that almost seems trivial now. Instead, I just put up a pic of him and linked to one my favorite UGK songs, which unfortunately, is feeling too real right now.
(I pray that we won’t have to go through all of this again for Spice 1. Keep him in your prayers.)