Kevin “DJ 50 Grand” Griffin, the man who helped The Notorious B.I.G. record the demo tape that earned him a profile in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine back in the publication’s early days and prompted Sean “Diddy” Combs to sign him, passed away over the weekend. The death of DJ 50 Grand, , was confirmed by Junior M.A.F.I.A. member Lil’ Cease.
Gaining local fame in Brooklyn as a member of the Lafayette Gardens-based crew The Old Gold Brothers, DJ 50 Grand (sometimes known as 50 Gran, sans the “d”) connected with The Notorious B.I.G. after being introduced to the future rap phenomenon by Biggie’s close friend Damion “D-Roc” Butler. The pair banded together as a duo to create what would ultimately become the iconic demo tape that launched Biggie’s career, which included the tracks “Microphone Murderer,” “Guaranteed Raw,” and “Love No Ho.” As legend has it, after recording the demo in an hour’s time in his basement, DJ 50 Grand would pass the tape on to fellow DJ Mister Cee, who would later go on to become Biggie’s DJ.
From there, the demo continued to circulate, reaching The Source magazine editor Matteo “Matty C” Capoluongo, who featured Biggie, along with DJ 50 Grand, in his Unsigned Hype column. Soon after, Diddy, an executive at Uptown Records at the time, took interest in Biggie after catching wind of the tape and the rest is history. Biggie and DJ 50 Gran would remain friends until the rapper’s tragic murder in 1997, which those close to the DJ say 50 Gran took particularly hard given their history and close relationship. He even attended the special orchestral tribute to Biggie that took place at The Lincoln Center in New York City this past Friday (June 10).
In 2011, DJ 50 Grand shared his memories of meeting The Notorious B.I.G., noting the fact that he was not only present at the famous rap battle Biggie took part on that was captured on video, but was actually the DJ manning the turntables on that particular day. “I started working with Big in ’91,” 50 Grand said at the time. “I was 21; he was 15. I met him through a friend of mine. They hustled together on [the intersection of] Bedford and Quincy. People in the neighborhood knew him as the hottest rapper around. Everybody that stepped in his path, he ate ’em up. He earned that stripe from that one battle he had on Bedford and Quincy. I was the one that was playing the music.”
VIBE sends our condolences to the family and close friends of DJ 50 Gran. May he Rest in Peace.