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As another year passes, many are left to wonder what could have been for the life of one of the most prolific Hip Hop artists to ever bless a microphone. Writers often focus on the life and career of Christopher Wallace, and gloss over what his loss meant to Hip Hop across the board.

What if on March 9, 1997 the only eventful thing that happened to Biggie Smalls was that they forgot to put his fries in the bag at the local burger joint? If he had not been shot where would we be in Hip Hop right now? Or conversely, what if he had been shot, yet survived? Would Hip Hop’s dark trajectory have gotten even more shadowy, murky or sinister?

We had to turn to “the party” after the lives of two of our best and brightest were taken because, the Hip Hop existence had become too much for the average head to wrap their minds around. Hip Hop had lost it’s innocence and the freedom to do and say whatever we wanted to do or say now felt like a free fall. But what if Christopher Wallace was still a part of that conversation.

If Biggie remained a leader in the microcosm of rhyme, would our views have changed regarding what was acceptable in the booth or what passed for talent or skills in the game in totality? Would we have stayed in party mode for so long? Or would the days of put it on wax continued to give way to the whole, “forget wax let’s turn those lyrical threats into a frightening episode of the “Mad Real World”!” That scary place where nothing is as it seems and a human life is worth not much more than  the passing of the symbolic notebook.

Unfortunately the world will never know because those bullets did strike the Notorious Rapper from Brooklyn sixteen long years ago, and the game has never been the same since. We can pretend to know what would have been, but we don’t really know. In the end, it’s nice to imagine what Big would have been like as an elder statesman of the game. His words were so hauntingly genuine and often rang true in their wisdom. He knew things even as a young man and was able to see what others dared not look for. While we can’t say what would have happened had he not died, we can say that Hip Hop in its entirety is better because he once lived.

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