Illustration by Michael White. Words by Cain Kerner.
“Ready To Die” is revered as one of the most pivotal albums to ever exist in the culture of Hip-Hop. Adored and exalted for its intricately impactful lyrical content, ruthless honesty, buoyant flows, and attention-snaring storytelling – not to mention the infectious production – it should come as no surprise that we pull a quote for this week’s “Inside The Lines” from track 10 of the aforementioned album by Brooklyn’s own Notorious B.I.G., Juicy.
Considered by many as the pinnacle of “rags to riches” storytelling, Big vividly describes the mindset and physicality attached to his humble beginnings from his newfound successful perspective. What always inspired me about this record, and music video, is that each and every line is a testament to the possibilities that life holds. What once seemed unattainable and far from reach now literally surrounds him, granting him the opportunity and ability to not only be an example for those who wish to attain success as well, but to inspire and fully relate to them through his lyrics.
“Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
When I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this…”
— Notorious B.I.G.
Along with referencing the mindset he was once in and broke free from, these lyrics can also reference his childhood desires and wants now being realized and attained. Everything Big could ever want became a living breathing possibility, and he no longer had to live with restriction. What I’m often left with after viewing the music video or listening to the record is a supercharge of inspiration and assurance that whatever I want to achieve, I can fucking do it. Biggie’s the proof.
Through the years we’ve seen countless examples of rappers going broke from “balling out” and making ridiculous purchase after ridiculous purchase. Big on the other hand seemed to know what the hell he was doing with his paper judging from the moves he made while he was living and recent interviews from Puff detailing business ventures they had in the works around the time of his passing.
Coming from “the struggle”, it would seem common sense for one to make well informed decisions to not only maintain the success but to actually grow it, but that isn’t always the case. It’s easy to write off the lavish and sporadic financial decisions of “new millionaires” who never had shit as foolish, but what the hell would you do?
Juicy was the embodiment of hope that shined through on Ready To Die. With its immediate contrast following, Everyday Struggle, the message on Juicy holds all the more prevalent..
Anything is possible, and no dream is too large to be realized. In the meantime, keep working towards what you want, and keep on believing in yourself and your goals. It’s all good, baby baby.