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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‘Chappelle’s Show’ Removed From Netflix At Dave Chappelle’s Request

Chappelle’s Show is no longer streaming on Netflix, at the request of Dave Chappelle. The comedian reached out to the company to ask them to remove the series, for which he received no residuals, and they quickly complied.

On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Chappelle’s posted an Instagram video from a recent stand-up show, called Unforgiven, where he further explained his reasoning for not wanting the Viacom/CBS-owned show to stream on Netflix. “[ViacomCBS] didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” he explained of the sketch comedy show. “But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either.

“That’s why I like working for Netflix,” he continued. “I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious. How could they not– how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.”

Episodes of Chapelle's Show had been streaming on Netflix for about a month. While the showw has been wiped from the streaming outlet, episodes remain on Comedy Central, CBS All Access, and HBO Max.

Watch Chappelle’s full clip below.

 

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50 Cent, Joy Bryant, Nicholas Pinnock Talk New Season Of ABC's 'For Life'

Months after its debut, ABC's For Life has returned for a new season. Based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a former-inmate-turned-lawyer, the drama series' protagonist, Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock), fights for his freedom and safety in and out of the courtroom while fighting for that of his fellow inmates. As Wallace inches closer to finding substantial evidence to exonerate himself, he reconnects with his ex-wife Marie (Joy Bryant) and pregnant teenage daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris).

"When I met with Issac, I almost couldn't believe what he was saying to me. He went to jail, became a prison rep, came back created a case law through other people's cases, and worked his way out of jail?" said Curtis "50" Cent" Jackson in a recent interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "You know more people that saw things not going well [in prison] and said I'll take a bad situation before I take the worst situation and cop-out because they know the system will just wash them up and that will be the end of it."

The first season of For Life essentially covers the first 9 years of Wright's experience while in jail. This season, topics like Black Lives Matter and social justice are addressed and Wallace finally reenters society. "There are 5 different Aarons I'm playing," shared British actor Nicholas Pinnock. "One is Aaron who is the prison rep. One is Aaron who is the father and husband to Marie and Jas(mine). One is Aaron with the prison warden and his relationship with her. Another one is Aaron just as an ordinary prisoner. And then you have Aaron the lawyer...and then in Season 2, we have a sixth layer. There's Aaron on the outside."

An unspoken source of strength lies in Marie who has supported and served as a "ride or die" figure in the first season. When asked about addressing those who don't agree with her prior decision to move on to Wallace's friend, Bryant pointed out her character's humanness. "Marie had to make some hard choices when Aaron was sent away. They may not be things that people agree with. 'Oh, she's with his best friend' or whatever, but she was left holding the bag, literally," she pointed out. "Things aren't always so black and white. People have to make decisions based on where they are and what they feel they need to do at the time and everyone can have whatever opinion they want."

Watch VIBE's full interview with Bryant, Pinnock, and Jackson, who also co-executive produces the show. New episodes of For Life premieres Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on ABC.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

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‘Black Panther’ Sequel Will Reportedly Begin Filming In Atlanta Next Year

Filming on the highly anticipated sequel to Black Panther is set to begin next summer. Marvel Studios will start shooting the Ryan Coogler-directed sequel in July 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The series are the priority, “ a source told THR of Marvel’s film strategy going into next year. “Ramping them up takes a lot of focus. The movie machinery is well established.”

The shoot will last at least six months. Princess Shuri, the character played by Letitia Wright, who plays King T’Challa's sister Princess Shuri, could take on an expanded role given the death of Chadwick Boseman.

Narcos: Mexico actor Tenoch Huerta will reportedly join the cast, while Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Windsor Duke are also expected to return for the second installment of the Marvel film.

In September, Black Panther’s executive producer Victoria Alonso denied rumors that Boseman would appear in the film via CGI technology. “There's only one Chadwick, and he's not with us,” Alonso said. “Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to the story and what we do to honor this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, in reality.”

Boseman, 43, passed away from colon cancer in August.

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