Mister Cee kicked off his career in music officially alongside Big Daddy Kane in the late 1980s. In 1991, just after his final tour with Kane, a persistent local deejay delivered a demo tape of a young The Notorious B.I.G. to Cee. Shortly after, Biggie was featured in The Source’s “Unsigned Hype” column, Puffy caught wind, and the next few years launched a career hip-hop fans still obsess over.
In a second sit down with Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds for their Juan EP podcast, Cee dove into the details of his early interactions with Biggie, signing the rapper to a production deal, and passing the reigns over to Puffy who was still a young, pre-Bad Boys Records A&R.
Check out some of the highlights from Cee’s insight below.
I met B.I.G. through his first deejay 50 Grand. 50 Grand was from around my way in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. He was like, ‘I know this kid man, Biggie Smalls.’ This is ’91. He’s like, ‘I got this kid Biggie Smalls from Fulton St. man. He’s dope.’ I’m getting ready to go on with tour with Kane. This is like one of our last tours we did together, it was actually the Taste of Chocolate tour. If I told 50 Grand I’m coming back September 24, whatever day I told him I was coming back, the [guy] came to my house that night with the Biggie tape. It was the demo. The famous demo. The famous Biggie demo.
Here’s the thing that caught my attention when I heard this demo. The rhymes was ill if you’re really listening to what he’s saying, for him to be a young kid, maybe 18, 19-years old at the time. He’s rhyming over the sample that me and Kane used for ‘Ain’t No Half Stepping.’ To me, listening to it, it was like, ‘This is the second coming of Kane all over again.’
Relativity came to me about doing a record deal…It was a horrible deal so I didn’t have B.I.G. sign it or whatever. After that I got with my lawyer and me and B.I.G. did a production deal together…Then after that Puff calls Matty [at The Source] and was like, ‘I heard you got this ‘Unsigned Hype’ who’s like the hottest cat…Diddy was still A&Ring at Uptown MCA and hit me up like, ‘I wanna talk to you about this guy you got Biggie Smalls.’ I told Puff that I got a production deal with him. Puff immediately from the rip was like, ‘Yo man, I can’t do a production deal. If I’m interested it’s gonna have to be straight up or none at all.’ Not buying me out of it, but like, ‘If I do it I gotta sign him straight up as an artist without a production deal.’…I had to make the decision if I wanted to keep B.I.G. to myself or let him be as an artist…[I knew Puff] could take B.I.G. to the next level.
I don’t think about, ‘Yo, I discovered the greatest rapper of all time.’ I don’t really think about it like that. But I do think about, what everybody thinks of B.I.G., I saw it early in the game. Like, ‘This guy can be the one.’ I was thinking more of Brooklyn, New York. That kind of thing. That he could be the next thing from New York, I wasn’t thinking globally.
And on that time Slick Rick pulled a gun on Kane…
They was best friends at one point. If you remember the ‘Teenage Love’ video, Kane was in the video with Slick Rick. Kane was the guy that was kind of taking Slick Rick’s girl away from him or whatever. So they was like best friends at one point. But we was on tour with Public Enemy and we was the co-headliners, Kane and Slick Rick, we was co-headliners. Which means that in each city we would take turns of going on before Public Enemy. So if we was in Detroit it would be Slick Rick’s turn to go on before Public Enemy. If we was in Cincinnati it would be Big Daddy Kane’s turn to go on before Public Enemy. What started to happen was Slick Rick started coming to the show purposefully late because he wanted to go on after Kane. We started getting wind of that maybe after the third show. After we both performed Kane stepped to Slick Rick on the tourbus, went up to Rick like, ‘Yo man, what’s going on man? You coming late to the show.’ Rick literally said, ‘Fuck that man, I’m Slick Rick the Ruler man, I don’t give a fuck.’…Kane pushes Slick Rick away from him ’cause they was like face to face, and then Slick Rick winds up pulling out like a little .22 gun getting ready to shoot Kane. Security for both crews kind of broke it up and that’s how it was.
Listen to the whole interview below.
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