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NOTORIOUS Writer Cheo Hodari Coker Talks About Biggie's Last Interview, His Legacy and the Man Behind the Music

There are only a handful of journalists who were lucky enough to develop personal relationships with The Notorious B.I.G. Fifteen years after his tragic passing, the heart of hip-hop still mourns over the loss of one of its prodigal sons and he remains a rap legend that will never truly die. Biggie’s legacy been has been continuously immortalized in countless documentaries, short films, books, records and of course the big screen film, NOTORIOUS. To obtain a closer look into the life of the beloved rhyme innovator, also known as Biggie Smalls, VIBE tapped one of the writers from his biopic, an accomplished journalist/writer/producer by the name of Cheo Hodari Coker. We wanted to gain insight into who BIG was as a human being. Cheo conducted countless interviews with Biggie from the time his debut album hit record store shelves to days before his murder. Read on to discover what really made The Notorious B.I.G. an unforgettable figure.

Purchase: UNBELIEVABLE The Life, Death, and Afterlife of The Notorious B.I.G.

 

VIBE: Let’s start at the very beginning. Do you recall the first time you met Biggie face-to-face?
Cheo Hodari Coker: The first time that I met BIG was in 1994, summer of '94, I believe it was August. I think it was right after Ready to Die came out. I was doing a piece for Spin that never got published. The reason it never got published was because they were mad that I wrote a Ready To Die record review for Rolling Stone and they were so competitive at the time, and mad cause I wrote the Rolling Stone record review that they killed my piece. My best friend Rob Marriott ended up writing that piece.

Anyway, I got to meet him for the first time, and I actually met him on St. James in Brooklyn. He was just a laid-back but compelling interview. It was funny because like every car driving by was playing a different song from Ready to Die.

Years later I ended up writing the first solo screenplay assignment I ever got, which was the Bob Marley story for Warner Brothers. There’s interesting parallels between Biggie’s life and Bob Marley’s life, besides both of them dying incredibly young and of course both of them being Jamaican [Laughs]. What was interesting is when Bob Marley lived at Hope road and would basically come outside to gatherings of people waiting for him. It was the same thing with Biggie, everybody knew where St. James was. Everybody knew where he was on the corners near the train stop. If you wanted find Bob you would just go right to 56 Hope Road, for Biggie you went to Fulton. Literally from the time when he started rhyming and selling weed and what not in front of that train, everyone from Dream Hampton and Bonz Malone would come through there. If you wanted to find Big you knew exactly where to go, it was almost like going to the neighborhood barber shop.

He was just like this person you would see, and when he immediately became a star that didn't change. It was funny because I asked him about it, about leaving Brooklyn, and he said he was afraid honestly to leave his block because he didn't know how he could and what he would rhyme about. Big said his environment was waking up smelling Chinese food and hearing his record playing around the block, and that was just kind of how he was. He talked about his daughters, Faith and him and just got married and he was already having a little bit of drama. He was hilarious and we tried to capture that in the film but if you really knew him he was so much fun to be around. His personality was completely different than his image was.

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Will Smith Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of ‘Bad Boys’

Will Smith celebrated the 25-year anniversary of Bad Boys on Tuesday (April 7) with a special shout out to his co-star, Martin Lawrence, and the film’s director, Michael Bey, and producer, Jerry Bruckheimer.

“Today is 25 years since the first ‘Bad Boys’ came out!!! We really putting this ‘for life’ thing to the test,” Smith captioned a video of him and Lawrence promoting the film in 1995 along with their recent Bad Boys for Life promo run.

 

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Today is 25 years since the first @badboys came out!! We really putting this “for life” thing to the test @martinlawrence 🙂 @michaelbay @jerrybruckheimer

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith) on Apr 7, 2020 at 12:03pm PDT

The first Bad Boys film was a box office hit raking in more than $140 million. The 2003 sequel nearly doubled the numbers of its predecessor.

Lawrence and Smith reprised their roles as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Barnett in Bad Boys for Life, which grossed $425 million worldwide.

Speaking to VIBE during the film’s premier in January, the duo revealed the secret to maintaining a flow on screen after all these years. “A great deal of respect and love for each other,” said Lawrence.

Smith noted that their friendship contributes to why they work so well together. “You can’t really love somebody you don’t understand. If you don’t known what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, if you don’t understand what somebody needs, you can’t really love them and that’s what I was noticing about the two of us, we just understand each other.”

Watch the full interview below.

 

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Quibi Documentary Explores LeBron James' I Promise School

Quibi's launch of original content has revealed an in-depth look into LeBron James' I Promise school based in the athlete's hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The docuseries explores young scholars attending the school and the traumas they've faced in their very short lives. I Promised officially opened in 2018, taking in low-income students who reportedly were among the worst performers in Akron’s public schools.

Speaking to People, James explained how the school's mission isn't just to improve grades but to provide emotional support the children will take into adulthood.

“Hope is a very powerful thing. No matter the situation, if a kid knows someone truly believes in them, that changes their outlook on everything,” James said. “With our school, everything is built on giving kids the confidence that they can do anything. They know I believe in them, they know their teachers, the whole staff, and everyone we’ve put around them believes in them. It’s incredible what they can do when they feel that support.”

Each student was handpicked with some improvement at record speed. According to The New York Times, 216 of 240 I Promise students met or exceeded their expected growth at the mid-year mark. “At the I PROMISE School, our goal is to let every single kid know they are special,” James added. “That they can be whatever they want to be. And that starts with addressing everything they’re going through before they even step foot in a classroom.”

Before its opening, James ensured that the parents of the students would also have a chance to expand their education and job hunt. Students also receive breakfast, lunch and snacks with access to an in-house food bank.

In the Quibi doc, James' mother Gloria Marie James, also shared how her son struggled in school as a child and how the player used his own life experience to help improve the school's mission statement.

“You’ll hear from my mom in the documentary, who shares how much we both can relate to what these kids and their families are going through,” he said. “A lot of what we do at I Promise School is based on our experience and that’s what makes the connection so real. We have a mutual understanding of each other and what we’re going through, and I think that gives us all the drive we need to succeed for one another.”

Like many schools around the country, I Promise teachers are engaging with students on platforms like Zoom.

 

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Our family looks a little bit different on the computer screen than they do at school…🤔🤣 but there is truly nothing like family! #WeAreFamily

A post shared by I PROMISE School (@ipromiseschool) on Mar 26, 2020 at 1:04pm PDT

Quibi, a new streaming service from Jeffery Katzenberg, founder and CEO of Dreamworks, officially launched Monday with original content from the likes of Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, Lena Waithe and more.

Luckily for T-Mobile customers, Quibi is on the house for a full year. T-Mobile customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on Magenta and ONE plans with taxes and fees included — along with discounted First Responder, Military and Magenta Plus 55 plans — or small business customers with up to 12 lines, can get Quibi (regularly $4.99) added to their plan for free.

Customers can sign up between now and July 7 to get Quibi on Us by going to mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android.

See the full list of shows on the platform here.

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Michael Che attend the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
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Michael Che Loses His Grandmother To Coronavirus: "I'm Obviously Hurt And Angry"

Saturday Night Live Star Michael Che has opened up on social media after losing his grandmother to coronavirus.

The New York native shared the news on Monday (April 6) while laying out his confusion over the education about COVID-19. As the death toll reportedly rises in the United States, a breakdown of the virus' origins remain unclear. It's unknown how old Che's grandmother was, but the comedian and writer did press on the importance of eating clean and green.

“Hi. I’m Michael Che, from TV. Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus,” Che wrote. “I’m doing OK, considering. I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone.”He went on, “But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore. And I also feel guilty for feeling happy. Basically the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special. I’m not unique. But it’s still scary. I don’t know if I’ll lose someone else to this virus. I don’t know if I’ll be lost to this virus. Who f**king knows?”

But the jokes weren't off the table. He also pointed at the infamous conspiracy theories about 5G technology and bats being the source of the virus.

“I just refuse to believe I lost my sweet, beautiful grandma because some n***a ate a bat one time," he wrote. “Maybe tell people what they should be eating and what foods to avoid … instead of just posting death tolls as your lead story every godd**n day!”

During this time of self-isolation, phenomenons like the Netflix docuseries Tiger King have become insanely popular, making it the butt of Che's jokes. “If we can spend 6 hours watching some tweaker raise tigers, then we can spend a few minutes finding out how to not poison ourselves.”

According to Deadline, production on Saturday Night Live was expected to pick back up March 28 but as cases in New York increase, the hiatus has been extended.

You can read Che's entire post below.

 

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i swear, im fine.

A post shared by Michael Che (@chethinks) on Apr 6, 2020 at 11:20am PDT

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