2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 2 - Show

Who Shouted Ya? 50 Famous Namedrops From The Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie loved to shout out his celeb friends on his tracks. 

Supreme soloists are considered to be of the highest order when it comes to the art of rhyme, and arguably the greatest of them all is being celebrated today --- despite having recorded his last song more than twenty years ago. The Notorious B.I.G., who was murdered on March 9, 1997, in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California, still remains as New York's undisputed king of rap.

With casual fans and hip-hop junkies alike showing reverence to the pride of Bed Stuy, Biggie Smalls receives praise from all walks of life. Throughout the culture's history, few figures have become as synonymous with hip-hop as Big Poppa, who took the rap world by storm in the mid '90s --- building a legacy that remains iron-clad to this day. Other rappers may have gone on to reach greater commercial success, but few rappers are as beloved or as formidable on the mic as hip-hop's Frank White. In our eyes, he is still one of the top lyricists of all time. Biggie transcended rap and infiltrated pop culture without sacrificing his integrity as an artist.

READ: The Notorious C.O.O.G.I.: Biggie’s History With The COOGI Brand

Possessing a skill-set that still makes the most accomplished of rappers envious, The Notorious B.I.G. would regularly leave listeners spellbound with his nimble flow and intricate rhyme schemes, but one aspect of Biggie's artistry that many overlook is his penchant for name-dropping. Dating back to the release of his debut single and first guest appearances, Brooklyn's own would give nods to various figures, including fellow entertainers, accountants, lawyers, close friends, and even family members --- giving listeners a glimpse into his world. Many of these instances would be marked as some of the rapper's most unforgettable bars, immortalizing the names within them.

READ: Notorious B.I.G.'s 15 Biggest Billboard Hits

To celebrate the life of a legend whose life was taken away too soon, we've compiled 50 of the greatest name-drops The Notorious B.I.G. littered throughout his raps during his relatively brief career.

READ: Live Big: 10 Life Lessons We Learned From Notorious B.I.G

1. "Party and Bullshit"

"Hugs from the honeys, pounds from the roughnecks/Seen my man [Lil] Fame that I knew from the projects/Said he had beef, asked me if I had my piece/Sure do, two .22's in my shoes"

2. "Budweiser Superfest Freestyle"

"I got seven Mack-11's, about eight 38's/Nine 9's, ten MAC-10's, the shit never ends/You can't touch my riches/Even if you had MC Hammer and them 357 bitches"

3. "Only You"

"Room 112 where the players dwell/And stash more cash than Bert Padell, inhale/Inhale make you feel godd like Tony Toni Tone (feels good)/Dig up in your middle like Monie (yes)"

4. "I Love The Dough"

"We hit makers with acres/Roll shakers in Vegas, you can't break us/Lost chips on Lakers, gassed off Shaq/Country house, tennis courts on horseback"

5. "What's Beef"

"Don't they know my nigga Gutter fuckin' kidnap kids/Fuck 'em in the ass, throw 'em over the bridge/That's how it is, my shit is laid out/Fuck that "beef" shit, that shit is played out"

6. "What's Beef"

"Man, listen, straight torture/Look what that slick shit bought ya/A first class ticket to Lucifer, real name Christopher/Watch me set it off like Vivica/Here lies your demise, close your eyes"

7. "Somebody's Gotta Die"

"I'm sittin' in the crib dreamin' about Learjets and coupes/The way Salt shoops and how they sell records like Snoop - (oops!)I'm interrupted by a doorbell/3:52 - Who the hell is this?"

8. "Long Kiss Goodnight"

"I make yo' mouthpiece obese like Della Reese/When I release, you lose teeth like Lil' Cease/Nigga please, blood floods your dungarees/And that's just the half of my warpath"

9. "Machine Gun Funk"

"This ain't Christopher Williams, still some/MC's got to feel one
Caps, I got to peel some/To let niggas know that if you fuck with big-and-heavy/I get up in that ass like a wedgie"

10. "Warning"

"Remember them niggas from the hill up in Brownsville/That you rolled dice with, smoked blunts and got nice with?/Yeah my nigga Fame up in Prospect/Nah them my niggas nah love wouldn't disrespect"

11. "One More Chance"

"I got the pack of Rough Riders in the back of the Pathfinder/You know the epilogue by James Todd Smith/I get swift with the lyrical gift/Hit you with a dick, make your kidney shift"

12. "One More Chance"

"You see, all I do is separate the game from the truth/Big bang boots from the Bronx to Bolivia/Getting physical like Olivia Newt/Tricks suck my clique dick all day with no trivia"

13. "The What"

"Excuse me, flows just grow through me/Like trees to branches, cliffs to avalanches/It's the praying mantis, deep like the mind of Farrakhan/A motherfucking rap phenomenon, plus"

14. "Juicy"

"It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/Hangin' pictures on my wall/Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl"

15. "Juicy"

"Born sinner, the opposite of a winner/Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner/Peace to Ron G, Brucey B, Kid Capri/Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski (Wassup?)"

16. "Juicy"

"I made the change from a common thief/To up close and personal with Robin Leach/And I'm far from cheap, I smoke skunk with my peeps all day/Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way"

17. "Big Poppa"

"Now check it: I got more mack than Craig, and in the bed/Believe me, sweetie, I got enough to feed the needy/No need to be greedy, I got mad friends with Benzes/C-notes by the layers, true fuckin' players"

18. "Unbelievable"

"And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches/Get smoked like dutches from the master/Hate to blast you but I have to, you see I smoke a lot/Your life is played out like Kwame and them fucking polka dots/Who rock the spot, Biggie/You know how the weed go, unbelievable"

19. "Who Shot Ya?"

"I feel for you, like Chaka Khan I'm the don/Pussy when I want, Rolex on the arm/You'll die slow but calm/Recognize my face, so there won't be no mistake/So you know where to tell Jake, lame nigga"Brave nigga, turned front page nigga"

20. "Bullshit and Party"

"Can't we just all get along?/So I can put hickies on her chest like Little Shawn/Get her pissy drunk off of Dom Pérignon/And it's on, and I'm gone"

21. "Just Playin'(Dreams)"

"As I sit back relax, steam a blunt, sip a Becks/Think about the sexy singers that I wanna sex/I'd probably go to jail for fucking Patti LaBelle/Ooh Regina Belle, she'd probably do me swell/Jasmine Guy was fly, Mariah Carey's kinda scary/Wait a minute, what about my honey Mary?/Them jeans they fitting like a glove/I had a crush on you since Real Love"

22. "Get Money"

"You wanna sip Mo' on my living room flo'/Play Nintendo with Cease and Nino/Pick up my phone say "Poppa not home"/Sex all night, mad head in the morn'"

23. "I Love The Dough"

"Ain't shit changed, except the number after the dot on the Range/Way niggas look at me now, kinda strangeI hate y'all too/Rather be in Carribean sands with Rachel/It's unreal, out the blue Frank White got sex appeal/Bitches used to go, "ill!"

24. "Long Kiss Goodnight"

"Short-change niggas, snort 'caine niggas/Extortion came quicker, bought the Range nigga/Ya still tickle me, I used to be as strong as Ripple be/Til Lil' Cease crippled me/Now I play hard, like my girl's nipples be"

25. "Victory"

"Excellence is my presence, never tense/Never hesitant, leave a nigga bent real quick/Real sick, raw nights, I perform like Mike/Anyone -- Tyson, Jordan, Jackson/Action, pack guns, ridiculous/And I'm, quick to bust, if my ends you touch"

26. "Dead Wrong"

"Who's the one you call Mr. Macho?/The head honcho, swift fist, like Camacho/I got so much style I should be down with the Stylistics/"Make up to break up" Niggas need to wake up/Smell the Indonesia, beat you to a seizure/Then fuck your moms, hit the skins to amnesia"

27. "Dead Wrong"

"I guess I was a combination of House of Pain and Bobby Brown/I was humping around and jumping around/Jacked her, then I asked her, "Who's the man?"/She said, "B-I-G", then I'd bust in her E-Y-E"

28. "Players Anthem"

"Just the way players play, all day everyday/I don't know what else to say/I've been robbin niggas since Run and them was singin 'Here We Go'/Snatchin ropes at the Roxie homeboy"

29. "Realms of Junior M.A.F.I.A."

"Dippin' with money L in the green beamer/Sippin' Zima's, on our way to see Katrina/She said she need a "Freak Like Me," like Adina/Fucked her by mistake she had a twin named Regina"

30. "All About The Benjamins (Remix)"

"Left my East Coast girl the Bentley to twirl/My West Coast shorty, push the chrome 740/Rocking Redman and Naughty, oh, where my kitty cat/Half a brick of yay in the bra where her titties at"

31. "Flava In Ya Ear" (Remix)"

"More Guns than Roses, foes is shaking in their boots/Invisible bully like The Gooch/Disappear, vamoose, you're wack to me/Take them rhymes back to the factory"

32. "Who's the Man"

"Cause he kept on beggin' for shit/Now B.I.G. keep on wreckin' the shit/And the chronic (cough) got a nigga (cough) rockin' shit/Castratin' like that Bobbitt bitch"

33. "4 My Peeps"

"Introducing the black bastard from Bedrock/Guaranteed to make your head rock, tote Glocks/Drop cops that mistake me for Rodney/Strictly head shots, I knock the twist out your dreadlocks"

34. "Keep Your Hands High"

"Me and my nigga Lance, took Kim and Cease advance/Bought ten bricks, four pounds of weed plants/From Branson, now we lamp in, twelve room mansions/Bitches get naked off Get Money, Playas Anthem"

35. "Keep Your Hands High"

"Talkin' blasphemy, blastin' me/Your family rest in coffins often/Frankwizza, far from soft or fragilla/Play hard like Reggie Miller, rapper slash dope dealer/Slash guerilla, slash illest turned illa"

36. "Gimme The Loot"

"I'm slamming niggas like Shaquille, shit is real/When it's time to eat a meal, I rob and steal/Cause mom dukes ain't giving me shit/So for the bread and butter I leave niggas in the gutter"

37. "Gettin' Money (Get Money Remix)"

"I display, Hot 97 rhyme-ready/Cocked Mac-11, line steady/Like Tevin Campbell I'm Ready/To do what I do, continuously to get money"

38. "Brooklyn's Finest"

"Who shot ya? Mob ties like Sinatra/Peruvians tried to do me in, I ain't paid them yet/Tryin to push 700's, they ain't made them yet/Rolex and bracelets is frostbit; rings too/Niggas 'round the way call me Igloo - Stick who?"

39. "Brooklyn's Finest"

"Me and Gutter had 2 spots/The 2-for-5 dollar hits, the blue tops/Gotta go, Coolio mean it's getting "Too Hot"/If Fay' had twins, she'd probably have two Pacs/Get it? ... Tu-pac's"

40. "A Buncha Niggas"

"I bring drama like ya, spit on my momma/Cannibalistic, like that nigga Jeffrey Dahmer/I'ma head peeler, girl stealer/Coffin sealer, ex-drug dealer"

41. "Bust A Nut"

"Me eat you, I beat you, then greet you to the door/Bitch, cause I don't love you no more/Which one of these hoes in the lobby wanna slob me/You know me, I like my dick brown like Bobby"

42. "I Love The Dough"

"Don't forget the vinyl, take girls break spinals/Biggie be Richie like Lionel, shit/You seen the Jesús, dipped to H classes/Ice project off lights, shit flashes"

43. "Sky's The Limit"

"Start stacking, dabbled in crack, gun packing/Nickname Medina make the seniors tote my niñas/From gym class to English pass off a global/The only nigga with a mobile, can't you see like Total"

44. "Nasty Boy"

"Ladies, my Mercedes/Hold fo' in the back, two if you're fat/Keep a gat cause cats try to test me/They just fans like DeNiro/Wesley"

45. "Miss U"

"Got the coke cooked up, a crackhead Kevin/In '88, when Kane ruled with "Half Steppin'"/A .38, a lot of mouth was our only weapon/We was kings till the D's crept in; and now I'm missing 'em"

46. "Going Back to Cali"

"Cali got gunplay, models on the runway/Scream Biggie Biggie gimme One More Chance/I be whipping on the freeway, the NYC way/On the celly-celly with my homeboy Lance"

47. "I Love The Dough"

"Cases catch more than outfielders/Half these rapping cats ain't seen war/Couldn't score if they had point game, they lame/Speak my name, I make 'em dash like Dame"

48. "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)"

"Silly cat, wore suede in the rain/Swear he put the G in game, had the Gucci frame/Before Dana Dane, thought he ran with Kane/I can't recall his name"

49. "My Downfall"

"Apologies in order, to T'Yanna my daughter/If it was up to me you would be with me/Sorta like Daddy Dearest, my vision be the clearest/Silencers so you can't hear it"

50. "Freestyle #13"

"When I was born, I know I make the world darker/The age of fifteen, tote gats, quick to spark ya/Like Bob Barker, if the price is right/Lay your ass down for spite, anybody aight?

From the Web

More on Vibe

Then & Now: Common Details How He And J Dilla Collaborated On The "Thelonious" Track With Slum Village

J Dilla and Common had a really tight creative bond and, at one point, lived together in L.A. So you know that Common got dibs on all of his hot beats first. They were hip-hop brethren just trying to work together and of all of their collaborations, living and posthumous, the track “Thelonius,” is the sharpest intersection of the two legendary artists' careers.

A singular song fit for two albums, the cut was placed on Common’s fourth studio album Like Water for Chocolate and Fantastic Vol. II, Slum Village's classic sophomore album. “Thelonius” as we know it was in a way an accident...a soulful snafu that we get to enjoy forever. In this excerpt of VIBE's Then & Now video franchise, Common shares how the song manifested unplanned, willed into existence by Dilla’s uncompromising creative compass.

The story is brought to life with artwork by visual artist supreme, Dan Lish (@DanLish1), the man behind Raekwon’s The Wild album artwork. The illustrations you see in this video are a small fraction of what you can find in his upcoming book: Egostrip Vol 1 – The Essential Hip Hop Art Book, a psychedelic visual history of hip-hop to be enjoyed by the genre’s oldest and youngest fans alike. 

Today is the last day to support Lish's Kickstarter for the incredible project. Click the following link for a copy of your own: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dan-lish/egostrip-book-1 

“I picked up on what inspired me about the artists, whether it be a certain lyric from a classic song or my perception of what may be going through their mind at the moment of creation,” says Lish.

There is much more to be said about all of these artists. For more stories on Common’s catalog, including several more Dilla cuts, stay tuned for the upcoming episode of Then & Now, where we dig deeper into notable tracks in the career of one Lonnie Rashid "Common" Lynn, Jr.

Continue Reading
Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.


You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Continue Reading
Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."


View this post on Instagram


“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

Continue Reading

Top Stories