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Cheo Hodari Coker Talks About Biggie’s Last Interview, His Legacy and the Man Behind the Music [PG.2]

Do you think at that time he really could even envision himself being an internationally known superstar and hip-hop icon?
I think Big would be bugged out about the fact that Jay-Z is bringing basketball back to Brooklyn and building arenas and you know hanging out in England and getting incredible feats of inauguration, all the stuff that Jay is doing. I think to a certain extent, Jay, who had a lot of love for Big, I think he had a little friendly competition with Big but also looked up to him. I think that’s one of the reasons that he constantly references Big because he kind of looked up to him as someone who pulled around his weight and made it as an MC before he did. So they had a lot of love between ’em and actually right up until Big got killed they would talk on a daily basis.

So how real was The Commission… how close were they to making that group happen?
Well I talked to Dame Dash about it once and Dame said the plan was that when BIG’s Bad Boy contract was up, there was talk of them really doing Big, Jay-z, Charlie Baltimore, and I think one or two other MC’s under that are coming into my head, and the plan I think was for it be on Roc-A-Fella. Not necessarily that BIG was going to leave Bad Boy but more like BIG was going to branch out.

Like how Wu-Tang does an album on Loud but they also get solo deals everywhere else?
Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing, there was like rivalry but there was camaraderie. So like everybody knew each other. For example, if you go back that first video that Jay-Z had with Mary J. Blige, “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” Big is there and everyone is just kind of hanging out but that was the crew. I mean everybody knew everybody.

It seems like Biggie knew people from all walks of life but wasn’t one to brag about knowing “this person and that person.”
Big was incredibly sophisticated and he would show different sides depending on how he felt. But I remember on one of our last interviews it bugged me out cause I told him that he looked just like this Jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut and he starts laughing, and I’m like ‘why is that funny and he’s like ‘I know Cyrus.’ The reason he knew Cyrus was because Donald Harrison was one of BIG’s early mentors and lived right around the corner. So people like Brandford Marsalis and Terrance Blanchard and Cyrus Chestnut and all these people would come to Donald’s place and jam all the time. So Big knew about Jazz and knew those guys. I thought it was funny because it wasn’t like Cyrus was a really well known jazz artist at the time but it was funny when we had that conversation.