Men’s Issues & Music – The Notorious B.I.G.

The second installment of this series features the late Christopher Smalls, a legend known by his interchangeable monikers Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G., and widely considered one of the top five most influential rappers in hip-hop history, and among the genre’s most important and groundbreaking figures. Indeed, his influence even today befits his imposing 6’3”, 280lb frame.

Entitled “Suicidal Thoughts,” this recording off his morosely-titled debut album Ready To Die is the most stark, haunting and realistic treatment of male suicide maybe ever recorded. It uniquely illustrates how hopelessness and self-loathing can overtake a man in the “wee small hours” (apologies to Frank Sinatra), like the literal darkness itself, surrounding and shrouding the human soul, until all will to see the next light is suffocated. Biggie’s tone is neither frantic, maudlin, or sardonic, as he weaves his tale of how he’s come to this personal crisis, from “baby mama drama” to not feeling truly loved by anyone. Emblematic is this heartbreaking lyric as Biggie ponders his mother’s ambivalence to him… and his demise…

All of my life I been considered as the worst

Lying to my mother, even stealing out her purse

Crime after crime/From Drugs to extortion

I know my mother wish she got a fuckin’ abortion

She don’t even love me like she did when she was younger

Suckin’ on her chest just to stop my fuckin’ hunger

I wonder if I died/Would tears come to her eyes?

Forgive me for my disrespect/Forgive me for my lies

The mildly dissonant alternating synth and bass chords, giving way to a stripped down kick and snare beat set a foreboding and discomfiting atmosphere. There is nothing warm & fuzzy, pithy, nor rollicking about the song. Listen to the increasing desperation and uncertainty (do I stay on the phone or come over? Is he actually serious?) of his friend on the other end of the line, played brilliantly by producer Sean “P.Diddy” Combs.

What ultimately happens? Well, I won’t spoil it. But make sure you’re not heading to a jovial occasion when you listen.

The full lyric can be found here:

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