Both rappers had drawn inspiration for their names from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again and its character Biggie Smalls that was played by Calvin Lockhart. So by the time the Biggie born Christopher Wallace arrived on the rap map the other Biggy Smallz was already out there releasing hip-hop singles including 1993's "Cruisin" which, like 1994's "Nobody Rides For Free," was also produced by Johnny "J" who was also producing for 2Pac - an affiliation that he is best known for. Reportedly it was Tupac Shakur who asked Christopher Wallace to change his name from Biggie Smalls to avoid confusion with his Thug Life buddy Biggy. Hence Christopher Wallace officially became The Notorious B.I.G. before releasing his major label debut. Although since some have suggested that it was not Pac's request for the name change but rather fear of legal copyright infringement from the producers of the Let's Do It Again movie that was the real reason for Wallace changing his name.
The definition of "hip hop movies" is pretty darn wide as it covers a broad range of types and styles of films - not to mention differing levels of quality since, let's face it, some have been downright low-budget jenky (bad meaning bad). The hip hop movie genre as a whole encompasses such varieties as concerts films (EG 1995's The Show or 2005's Dave Chappelle's Block Party); documentaries about specific parts of the genre or individual artists (e.g. Scratch or Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme or Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest); bio-pics like Notorious or the semi-biographical Eminem acting vehicle 8-Mile; and straight up pure celebratory flicks that show love for some or all of hip hop's four elements (EG Wild Style, Juice, Beat Street, and Breakin').
The other day while riding BART, I saw an ad for KMEL radio with a collage of images featuring a sampling of artists that get a lot of airplay on the popular Bay Area radio station, including the late great Tupac Shakur. The 2Pac photo (left) was that iconic one you see all the time, culled from the photo shoot for the slain rap artist's album All Eyez On Me. The Death Row / Interscope release was Tupac's fifth album and widely considered the best album of his long illustrious career, both in life and posthumously. 2Pac would be dead seven months after the
release of this album.
The actual photo, one of many shot by celebrity photographer Ken Nahoum (see video below by Nahoum from the 2Pac photo shoot) for the album's art work, was not used for the front cover but instead relegated to the inside gatefold as part of a collage of pictures and text to accompany the four-LP, two-CD set that was divided into "Book 1" and "Book 2." However, since its February 1996 release, it is this image that has been used time and time again in articles and advertisements like KMEL's.
Every time I see this iconic picture of Pac staring upwards I always wonder to myself, what is he looking at or what exactly was going through his mind right then? So over the weekend I passed on this question via my Facebook page to find our what others thought might be the answer. The response was pretty good so I decided to republish the replies below with the name of who suggested them.
2Pac "Keep Ya Head Up" (from Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)
On this date, September 13th, exactly sixteen years ago Tupac Shakur (aka 2Pac) died following being shot a week earlier in his well documented (but still unsolved) shooting in Las Vegas, NV on September 6th, 1996. The iconic NY born rapper/poet/actor is much loved the world over but in the Bay Area he seems to be especially beloved since it was in the Bay that he began his illustrious rap/hip-hop career. Back on June 16th, when the slain rapper would have celebrated his 41st birthday, there were several parties dedicated to him thrown in the Bay Area including one at Yoshi's with a performance from Digital Underground (the group he rose to fame with) while the two Bay Area Amoeba Music stores witnessed an increased interest in his music on that day.
But then 2Pac is always a hot item at the record store where record collectors are constantly digging for those countless 12" singles released during his lifetime and posthumously. As well as in the three Amoeba stores fans can check for Pac material online from the Amoeba Music Online Shop where you can find such classic 2Pac releases as All Eyez on Me, Me Against the World, 2Pacalypse Now, and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z) featuring the single "Keep Ya Head Up" (video above). There's lots more 2Pac items available from the Amoeba Online Store Tupac Page including the dope 2Pac poster pictured left. This B+W commemorative poster, which sells for $12, is 24" by 36" and is shipped by Amoeba in a sturdy. durable poster tube. Rest in Peace Pac.