Lil Cease Gives Details Behind Classic Life After Death References [Part Two]
Earlier this week, XXL posted the first of two installments in which Lil Cease and Banger of Junior M.A.F.I.Agave readers and behind-the-scenes look on some of The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death's most memorable lines and characters. Here, Cease breaks down Disc Two of the Bedford Stuyvesant lyricist's masterpiece. —Shaheem Reid (@ShaheemReid) and Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)
XXLMag.com: “Up in restaurants with mandolins and violins,” what was some of his favorite restaurants?
Cease: We used to go this spot I think it was on 49th and 9th, it was called Jezebel’s. We used to go there a lot, eat from there. It was one of the spots that had the fuckin' swingin' chairs and shit. It was one of those real like fancy spots. We used to go there and there was this other spot we used to go to for wings in our neighborhood, right there on Washington and Dean. It was this new restaurant they just hooked up, put chairs in there and decorative and sit outside to eat. We used to go there just to get the wings and the burgers. But Jezebel, that was B.I.G.’s spot.
“If you knew, what this game will do to you been in this shit since '92 look at all the bullshit I been through,” what was like his most stressful period?
His most stressful period, beside the ’Pac shit was probably with the label transition. When Puff got fired from Uptown [Records], ’cause you know at that minute he didn’t have a deal. So you went from having a deal, about to have this prosperous career to Puff getting fired and you don’t know where you’ll land from there.
“Fuck a few female stars or two,” actresses or singers?
Singers. [You know] Faith, Kim, she was a rapper. He knew a few, but it was behind closed doors. I can’t verify them. But me knowing B.I.G., my man was pimpin’. There was a few that crept around when he was tucked in somewhere.
“No aspiration to quit the game.” So was he gonna keep doing albums?
B.I.G. had this plan of doing five albums, then he was gonna quit and just let us run the game after that. He said he was gonna do five albums and he had three titles for the albums before anything. He had Ready to Die, he already had Life After Death and then he had Born Again. He was just setting these up in his head already. Ready to Die was that ‘I just don’t give a fuck.’ This shit is from the inside looking out. Life After Death was like, ‘I made it. I got life. I’m from the outside looking in’ and Born Again is just the total flip, totally different man. Starting over, there’s no more Timbs, no hoodies. It’s suits and suitcases, it's mob, it's mafia. Who knows what would have came after Born Again. It would have stretched out, once he started that M.A.F.I.A. shit. It was going from mafia to The Commission with me, Jay-Z, Charlie Baltimore, him, Un, and Puff. Who knows where it would have went from there. That’s why you see all them last couple of photos, he’s suited up. He was straight telling us, “You ain't gonna be rockin' no Timbs anymore. None of that shit. You about to put on some hard bottoms, slacks, suits. We gonna go in there on some mob shit.” We walk in there with suitcases on some real life Commission. That’s why he started talkin' that real mob shit. “If he don’t like me hit him while wifey was with him...”
“All them niggas I got to fight one.” Has there ever been a Junior M.A.F.I.A. brawl?
At The Tunnel, when B.I.G. was coming up. Every nigga from Brooklyn was in there fightin'. Some situation happened when we was beefin' with some niggas, D-Roc was actually beefin' with the nigga. Nigga said somethin' to B.I.G., and they wasn’t gonna let B.I.G. do nothin'. But they didn’t control this one and the minute he got somethin' out about B.I.G., B.I.G. just hooked off on him. The minute the nigga saw that, I kid you not every nigga that was from Brooklyn in that muthafucka started going nuts. It wasn’t hard to spot B.I.G. This nigga two and some change and 6’2". He was tall. Nigga must of said some greasy shit to B.I.G. ’cause you just see B.I.G. [do this] face and once he hit him, any nigga that was with us started hittin'. Roc, Money L, [etc.] it was a wrap. Every nigga that was from Brooklyn was thumpin'. You could probably ask some random [person] that been around at that time, and they’ll tell you.
“Bone and B.I.G. nigga die slowly,” B.I.G. was the first East coast dude to use that flow and kill it. Did he tell you he was gonna use it?
Nah, that was the first time he actually, when he did that song, make everyone leave the room. He used to never tell anybody to leave the room when he did vocals. He was like “All y'all got to bounce, you got to step out on this one. You’ll hear this when I'm done.” “I gotta sink in with this one, I’ll be quick.” We just went in the lounge and kicked it and smoked and 20 minutes later he came back. “Come here and listen to this.” It probably wouldn’t have been as impactful if we was there to hear the punches; it was one of the quickest rhymes he did. Nobody could go in there when he did that verse, not Puff, me, nobody. He wanted everybody out the room when he did that verse. So we don’t know how many times he punched, how many times he did it. It was short and sweet, though, and that’s what came out when we heard that shit.
“Miss U” is dedicated to O, tell me a little about him.
That was B.I.G.’s best friend. Before all of us, from me, Roc, Alex and Tony. He got caught up [around the way]. He was chillin' in some store over there and some dudes came in the back of the store and shot him like four times in his chest. To this day we don’t know if he had a situation over there or if he was beefin' with somebody. And that was B.I.G.’s man. He was a cool nigga. He was the one that encouraged B.I.G. to be on that music shit. Tellin' you, "My man gonna pop.” He was an aggressive muthafucka too, though. He came from a big family, they was a well know family in the neighborhood. He had a bunch of brothers, a bunch of fuckin' uncles and all them muthafuckas was crazy. He was a young wild one. He wouldn’t let nobody fuck with B.I.G., though, at all. That was B.I.G.’s right hand. I'm talking his man. Before all of us came about that was his man.
Whose “Crackhead Kevin?”
That was a little young head that used to be around our way. He was a young head, though. He was strung out on that shit like 24, 25 years old. Back in them days that was young. Nowadays you see these young kids get strung out on pills and coke and it's almost rare you see a 25, 26 [year-old]. He was a young nigga. He was our age fucked up off that shit.
What about Drew?
That was the story part of it, that was just him fillin' in the story. To be honest if I go back and really start thinkin', B.I.G. was probably talkin' about somebody from around the way [and was] just usin' a different name. He did that a lot. Like with records he would talk about somebody or talk about a situation and he would just switch the name. ‘My nigga C-Roc,’ he really talkin' about D-Roc. ‘Little Gotti got the shotty to your body,’ LC. He would just flip shit.
Now, on this second verse, where he’s talkin' about “Older brothers understand” and “baby mother blaming me,” was he still talkin' about O?
He was talkin' about O, but that part was just addin' shit to the story. The shit about the brothers and all that shit is all real but you just addin' shit to give it that feel. Same thing with movies, there was parts of his movie that was real, there was shit in there that just made it movie form, just fill ins. Same thing B.I.G. did, only if you been around you would know certain things he talkin' about that is real and you would know certain things that’s in movie form.
Who was "Taya?" Was she someone you all knew?
He’s talkin' about somebody else. We had them boostin' chicks that was around. We grew up around some chicks and they was hood. Them boostin' bitches used to pack burners and fight and cuttin' bitches and all types of shit. I think he’s talkin' about this other chick, but I forgot her name. She was one of these big boosters that used to live on top of one of the stores on Fulton street. She was the one that would always be gettin' into shit. There was always niggas come in from another part of town, poppin' a nigga, doin' all sorts of shit. She always knew who had to do with the shit.
On the intro of “Another” was Kim and B.I.G. really arguing?
Yeah. They do that shit a lot as an interlude, but that was really them just gettin' frustration out too. With him bein' married to Faith and the Kim shit so a lot of time we so called [had] them actin' that shit out, but they was prolly sittin' there really wantin' to say that type of shit to each other 'cause that was real shit we was goin' through. It was times both of them be in the session, she may have an idea he’s fuckin' with her, but we don’t know. She knows that’s his wife so she beefin'. When you hear them interludes, it sounds like just an interlude, but this was actually real shit. Muthafuckas come up there with attitudes. Shit used to be goin' down like that in them sessions, on the planes, on the buses. We was young it wasn’t our situation, we was youngsters. We be giddy and be laughin' about it. We was high half of the time.
Did he ever have a girl that cheated on him? A lot of this track is about a girl that was creepin' on him.
I’m sure he did. He probably had his share of shit you know at that time. We was too cool and young niggas to explore that type of shit, but I’m sure he experienced [it].
Did he know somebody named “Paula”?
We knew a bunch of Paulas. It was a gang of Paulas at that time. Not specifically that name, but there was a lot of jumps like that runnin' about back there around the way.
"Going Back to Cali"
What was the first thing you guys did when going to Cali?
Went to the studio. First stop straight to the studio, off the plane not even to a hotel yet. Straight to the studio. Daz was in there waitin' for us with a gang of Cali weed. This is around the time when everybody thought shit was just crazy. He was sittin' in the studio with Puff.
So he shouted out Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles was he big on that?
Yeah. That’s how we got into that shit. Fuckin' with Roscoe’s out there. He loved that shit. Fat Burger was the other joint.
“Screaming Biggie, Biggie, Biggie give me one more chance”
That was everywhere, just the quote females used to say to him. You walk to the car, in the mall you hear people yell that shit to him from floors. "I love it when you call me B.I.G. poppa." B.I.G. was that superstar people would just yell that shit.
Who was a person that came up to y'all that you might have been most surprised by, that was a fan?
We was out in Cali in front of The Westwood Marquis, the last hotel that we was at. It's actually called “The W” now in L.A. This lady was about 60 years old, maybe older, and she walked by and saw B.I. sittin' out there and she was like, “Are you that rapper that got that ‘Big Poppa song out? I love it when you, that’s you right? I love that song.” I was sittin' there [so I] then asked her, "How old are you?" I forgot what age she said, but she was an older lady. That [moment was] when I realized this nigga is a superstar. If that would have happened in New York that would have been different, just the fact we was on a whole different coast and to see this old lady who knew who he was, I was like, "Damn! This nigga got hit records."
Tennessee, what was it like spending time there?
Tennessee was cool, but wasn’t a real highlight city for us. Our main towns were Detroit, Chi-town, Miami of course and Atlanta, but we fucked around anywhere. B.I.G. was probably just shoutin' it out.
Was there a chick Simone?
Yeah, there was a Simone from my neighborhood.
"Sky's the Limit"
“Sky is the Limit,” what was that like, "A nigga never been as dope as me?"
Cats was young puttin' patches on shit. "What I wore on Mondays and Wednesday’s...got tigers on they shirt." I remember those days.
How do you feel man, seeing T'yanna in college, on the song he talks about "get my daughter this college plan so she won't need no man." Now his daughter is actually in school.
It wasn’t like he was there to keep it goin'. But you know the platform he built, now she’s in college. Of course that makes you feel good. You seeing the future, that he rapped about 15 years ago and we actually looking now at his benefits, his financial stability is what put her in school.
"The World Is Filled"
"When the Remy's in the system" off of "The World Is Filled," was that his favorite drink?
Remy all day, we used to fuck with the Baileys Irish Cream. I used to mix that with the Don P. Don Perignon. We used to mix that with the Baileys. We were drinkers, son. We used to get pissy. We used to drink the Jack Daniel's straight.
I remember during the Notorious film, B.I.G. was shown getting repeated death threats over the phone, was that really happening?
Oh yeah. We get the prank calls all the time, callin' us threatnin' us and and shit, sometimes we used to hang up then sometimes we used to talk to the muthafucka, curse his ass out too.
On the track, was D.Dot doing the phoned death threat or was it a real recorded message?
Nah that wasn't a real one, that might have been Dot, but the situations was actually real, though. It went to the point to that when we was actually on tour in Cali—like when they showed that part in the phone, we was still gettin' them shits. It used to happen a lot at the house on the house phone in Jersey. They used to always call threatenin' us. That's how B.I.G. used to be, he'd be like, "Word, word, you gonna kill me, word, aight, no doubt, aight, no doubt, I'ma see you then." Person be like, 'I'ma kill you. I'ma kill all you muthafuckas,' B.I.G. be like "Aight."
Where did he come up with,"You gain 30 pounds when you die, no lie"?
But that one right there, that shit, that was just him being sharp. A lot of times, man, even today I just listen and still just catchin' shit. I'm old enough to understand and I understand better now then when I was young. Some lines B.I.G. wrote was to out live us. To this day, we ain't see a 700 yet. So that shit right there out livin' us, know what I'm sayin'?
Who was the oldest cat in your crew, when he mentioned "Old School cats?"
Chico is probably the oldest outta all of us. And then you got Un, all of them was older than us. Un, his brother Just, they were all older, a couple years older than us and older than B.I.G.
"Long Kiss Goodnight"
Now on "Long Kiss Goodnight" tell me about that famous line, "When I release, you loose teeth like little Cease…"
We got into the car accident in Jersey, but it started when we was in Brooklyn the day before that picking up some Wendy's and smokin'. We clipped the weed, and went to Wendy's to get something to eat. We ain't wanna drive, we wanted to eat that shit right there. We was on one of those side blocks in Downtown, so police roll down on us, and they wanna be all up in the car and one of those dick ridin' cops was lookin' in the car and seen the clip. We had it open near the ashtray, but we had like a soda over there, so one of those niggas in the passenger side while the other nigga talkin', rolled up on the driver side, like, 'That looks like weed right there." Next thing they wanna pull us out the car, search, found like a little bag of weed, locked us up.
It was nothing but a little ticket. When they let us out the precinct and they was givin' us our truck back, shit wouldn't start so we called the tow truck had it towed all the way back to Jersey. Next day we go to the dealership, going to get a loaner car until they fix our car, and they sent us this aluminum van, looked like a runaround van, that they probably just used around the lot. I was like, 'Y'all givin' us this shit?" I'm thinkin' they gonna give us a Lexus truck, car or somethin', but for some reason B.I.G. was like, "Fuck it, drive it, it ain't gonna be for a while anyway." I said, "Fuck it, whatever you say my nigga. You boss." We jumped in that shit and the minute we pulled out and the nigga we got the car from, took us there to get the car, he was showin' us how to get out, brakes was fucked up, all this shit was fucked up on the car, and I was like, "Yo, B.I., this shit don't shake right. He was just like, "Take it. We ain't goin' to get no other car, so we was goin' to get on the turnpike, you know when you goin' through tolls and we was goin' south. I was goin' around that circle to go north towards back our way, and we was in the car and that shit spun out of control. We wasn't goin' fast at all 'cause we just got out and that shit just spun from the rain. We was on the side of the highway and went dead smack to the bottom. Thats how B.I.G. hurt his leg, and I hit my face on the steerin' wheel. and I fucked up like four of my bottom teeth in that accident, that's how I ended up getting the gold teeth 'cause I ain't wanna get no false teeth, only way I could save my teeth is if I put these braces around them to save them. But, I ain't want braces, then they was like we could put frames around it. I was too young to be walking around with some false teeth, so I was like put some frames around my shits and I'm going to get me some fronts. So that's where that shit came from. That's what was dope about B.I.G., some things he rapped about, were just inside things, for family or for important people, a crew thing.
What about when he says, "I want my spot back?" Do you feel like he felt like at the time he losing his spot as the king?
Nah, I don't think so 'cause there was never a time when he felt insecure about his position. Lines like that, I just feel were part of the rap part of it. Coming back with that project and thinkin' can you do it again. I want my spot back I ain't goin' nowhere, this just solidified. At the end of the day he was on top, no one else was really doin' what he was doin' at that time as far as anyone in the east. It was not a question of who was the best at that point.
"When my men bust, you just move with such stamina/Slugs missed ya, I ain't mad at cha (we ain't mad at cha)" A lot of people would dissect that into him possibly talking about 'Pac. Was that so?
Nah, none of that. I mean, people kinda directed that towards 'Pac with Puff doin' all the talkin' shit on the record, more or less 'cause of that. I was just sayin' this earlier, B.I.G. let it be known to people that he was listenin' to you. He would never make a whole song about the whole situation with 'Pac or, the shit with Nas, but he would tap on it, he would write lines to let them know he was listenin', but that wasn't even one of the lines like that. That was just him being B.I.G., having a sense of humor and being funny. I mean that line when he said, "If Faith had twins she would probably have two Pacs," he was having fun and just jokin' about it. Little slick shit, but I don't think it was nothin' to towards 'Pac with that one.
What about, "Heard through the grapevine you got fucked four times?" Anyone in particular?
Oh that was just him just rhymin', that was just bars.
"Knocking Ma$e shit, basic." Did he really fuck with Ma$e like that?
Hell yeah! He brought Ma$e out to his first performance at the Apollo. That's when Ma$e had "Only You" out. He let Ma$e come out and perform that shit.
What was the reaction?
That shit was live. The record was pipin' hot and you got the best of the best bringin' you out in your own town. Yea, Ma$e tore that shit up just for that one verse. He was on that shit, that shit had him buzzin'. He was still livin' in Harlem at that time so you know how he was feelin' his self.
"You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)"
Now on to the last track, “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)." "Spending chips at Mannys, hope you creeps got receipts." Who was Manny?
Nobody ain't knew about Mannys. That was before Jacobs, before anyone that do jewelry today. They should be praisin' Manny. Tito was the man who made the Jesus Pieces, that's like a hip-hop piece now.
"Lay up in Miami with Tamika and Tammy/Some Creole C-O bitches I met on tour." Who were they?
Yeah, that was real. That was one of those bad chicks we used to kick it with out there and that was the first time we was gettin' up with some real gettin' money bitches. All types of stones in they ear, Donna Karan, Versace, pullin' up in the Benz and they was bad, used to come through stylin'. We used to jump in the car with them out there.
What did she do? Was she about that life?
[Laughs] Yeah, or some of the niggas she was fuckin' with was about that life. She was comin' to New York and everything payin' for her own flights, didn't want nothin' outta B.I.G., just loved the shit outta that nigga. That was B.I.G. at that time. They used to fly theyselves out, come out, be on 5th ave, come out to 5th they still shoppin', take a trip out to Miami, be like, "I'm 'bout to come pick you up." Bitch come out with a drop, sunny.
"Dark skinned Jermaine," was he a fictional character?
Yeah, that was just some story shit.
Yeah we had a crackhead Lorraine, though. Yeah, man. She still around.
Is she still a crack addict?
Yeah, man. I just saw her the other day. I was just talkin' to somebody about that the other day, and it's crazy how they can be strung out on drugs and be here forever, I mean she out there and that's someone I used to sell to when I was a kid, and she still out there askin' for two dollars. We call her Renegade, 'cause there's muthafuckas out there taking care of theyself, or young niggas dyin' for unknown shit. But, you know, I can legitimately say I ain't hustle in years. So, it's been a good 20-year run smokin' crack and you still out there poppin', still movin' around askin' niggas for two dollars.
It's bugged out how people be dyin' all left and right and here I know a person livin' 20 years gettin' high, still walkin' around—
Still high, walkin' around here, movin', not missin' an eye, leg, finger. Renegade, that’s what B.I.G. used to call her, 'cause she been gettin' high since B.I.G. was out there hustlin'. Before music, and everyone would be like, "Here come, Renegade." We used to gas her. She would be posin' and shit and we would be like, "Aww shit! Here come, Renegade. Cats give her like two or three dollars, mean face, old faced lady, she still out there. I saw her like just a week ago. To be honest, I was actually happy to see her. I was like, "Damn, Renegade! You been around for a long fuckin' time. You still the fuck alive?"