A Mississippi Rapper Claims Biggie Copied His Song to Make “Juicy.” Here's Why It Could All Be a Big Coincidence.
Photo: Apple Music

A Mississippi Rapper Claims Biggie Copied His Song to Make “Juicy.” Here's Why It Could All Be a Big Coincidence.

The Notorious B1’s 1993 single “Big Daddy” also samples Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit.”

A Mississippi rapper has insinuated that The Notorious B.I.G. committed a cardinal hip-hop sin of his era: unoriginality. Specifically, that one of the late rapper’s most beloved tracks was the result of biting. Yikes!

An artist by the name of Notorious B1 claims Biggie’s “Juicy” was heavily inspired by his own track “Big Daddy,” which debuted in 1993—one year before the Bad Boy rapper’s debut album. The basis of B1’s claim comes down to the beat—both songs sample Mtume’s 1983 hit “Juicy Fruit”—and the similarities between their names.

This controversy begun recirculating last week, lighting up message boards like Boxden and Reddit, making its way around the Twitterverse, and being covered on music sites like AllHipHop and DJ Vlad. While “Big Daddy” might have been confined to the past and a select group of locals familiar with the track in the early ‘90s, B1 provided some context—and some hefty allegations—in a caption he included with the single when he uploaded it to Datpiff in 2012.

"I had the name and song first,” he wrote. “I know it might be hard to believe but it is 100% the truth. We was on the radio first… We sent packages to all the major labels shopping for distribution. Just [imagine] my surprise when people started calling me saying they've just seen my video.”

Notorious B1 added that he dropped his gripe after Biggie’s death, but the passage of time may have made him more willing to share his perspective. “I'm not fat anymore and a lot has changed,” he continued, “but before I leave this b*tch I want everybody to know the truth. I was the original Notorious Bigg One.”

With B1’s claims and the known facts in mind, you get to the center of the argument, which hinges on the notion of cross-country accessibility, rap trends, and the idea of coincidence. It’s a constellation that leads the topic to be a recurrent one.

Before you get hypnotized by an alarming take, let’s look back at the 1990s. By ’92, Dr. Dre was the face of g-funk, the rap subgenre that repurposed old soul records into West Coast bops designed for low-riding, barbecues, and gang activities. Spurred by the release of Dre’s debut album, The Chronic, and Snoop Dogg’s 1993 opus, Doggystyle, gangsta funk became the dominant sound of hip-hop. It’s to be expected that others would try to emulate it. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that multiple people would gravitate toward the glossy  “Juicy Fruit” sample.

Months before the release of “Big Daddy,” San Francisco rapper Andre Nickatina (f.k.a. Dre Dog) employed the sample for “The Ave,” a track that fuses street raps with buoyant funk. So while it’s possible that Big took inspiration from B1’s track, there’s just as good a chance that he took a page from Nickatina. Or that he and Puff Daddy did the same thing everyone else was doing: sample Black music.

Then, we get to the name. It should be noted that Biggie was actually referred to as The Notorious B-I-G when The Source initially covered him for their new artist spotlight column, Unsigned Hype. This was in March 1992. In a 1994 interview, Biggie said he originally rapped under The Notorious B.I.G. However, once signed to Bad Boy Records, he used the name Biggie Smalls—a reference to his stature (6’3” and 300+ pounds) and Calvin Lockhart’s Let’s Do it Again character. Biggie only changed the moniker after he was sued for its usage, and thus, The Notorious B.I.G. was reborn. So, if you let Big tell it, he was always Notorious.

Is there a chance Biggie was inspired by Notorious B1’s name? Sure. But considering the way Mr. Wallace was referred to in Unsigned Hype, and the idea that it’s just a variation of his original name—which was often still used colloquially anyway—it seems more likely that this is just another coincidence.

Now you know very well that hip-hop music is based around the 3Rs: Reusing, recycling, and remixing. James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” has been sampled more than 1,500 times. You’ve heard that same drumbeat from The Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President” on songs by De La Soul, J. Cole, N.W.A., and many, many others. There’s a Baby and a Lil Baby and a DaBaby.

Biggie is not here to address The Notorious B1’s claims, so we may never know whether he or Diddy ever heard “Big Daddy.” Yet, as Nas once rhymed, “There’s nothin’ new under the sun/It’s never what you do but how it’s done.” Any way you look at it, at least two rappers were thinking along the same lines as Big and Puff before “Juicy” ever hit the airwaves. If you don’t know, now you know.

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