Biggie Smalls would have been 43 today (happy birthday B.I.G.!). His fellow golden ager Busta Rhymes celebrated his birthday bashment yesterday (happy belated Buss!). So it must have been some sort of harmonic convergence that scarcely a week ago our close personal peoples Marcus Logan shared not one but two amazing stories that shed new light on these amazing artists and their legacy, giving us the candid glimpse that only an industry insider war story can–in classic throwback thursday fashion.
Marcus, in case you’ve never encountered Mr. Logan, is something of a vet himself. If you want to be 3rd in line (behind Questlove, Q-Tip and Salaam Remi) to get up on a new group like Hiatus Kaiyote, Marcus is the type of cat you need to know. Want to know what’s hitting Paris, Berlin or Jozi? Call Marcus. Having worked with everyone from Pharrell to Puffdaddy, he’s picked up more than his share of great stories and today he shares with us an intimate glimpse of the very first time Violetta Wallace and Afeni Shakur laid eyes on one another, as well as Busta’s mentorship behind the scenes of ’97s No Way Out tour. Read on to get both stories…and happy Throwback Thursday!
In 1999 Jeff Burroughs–then GM of Bad Boy Entertainment–and I flew to Sweden, Berlin, London & Paris to promote “Born Again”; Notorious B.I.G.’s 1st posthumous album with B.I.G’s mom, Violetta Wallace. It was in Sweden that we told Ms. Wallace the “Born Again” album went #1 on the Billboard charts. She cried knowing and seeing how much love her son had received throughout the world. Upon our return to the U.S., we attended the 1999 MTV Awards at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Ms. Wallace and I walked together outside to go backstage. It was her 1st time in LA since her son passed away and the emotions ran deep. Upon entry, we encountered two people walking towards us in the semi-darkness. A man and woman quickly emerged, approaching us. The woman, upon a closer look, was Afeni Shakur…2Pac‘s mom. The two women stopped in their tracks and just looked at each other for 10 to 15 seconds. It was the first time they ever met. They shared a moment only a mother who lost a son knows. They hugged and cried then shared a private conversation. Upon completion of the talk, they walked together with their arms locked, up the stairway leading to the backstage entrance. They were greeted by the mob of paparazzi lined up flashing their cameras at the host of celebrities. Lauryn Hill then encountered the two and once again shared a brief moment, they all took a picture together before both Ms. Wallace & Ms. Shakur walked on stage as sisters, mothers and strong black women to present an MTV Award for Best Rap Video. Amazing moment I will never forget.
Back even further, in the winter of 1997, I entered my first executive tenure as a product manager with the illustrious label of Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and Bad Boy Entertainment. As product manager my assignment was to manage the entire schedule of press junkets for the No Way Out tour. The label was red hot with Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death, Ma$e – Harlem World and Puff Daddy & the Family – No Way Out, all at the peak of their multi-platinum success. I was sent to Worcester, Massachusetts and my goal was to get backstage, find Bill Reeves the Tour manager and Benny Medina, Puff’s manager, then introduce myself to Puff.
I arrive at the arena to be greeted by Mr. Reeves, who kindly introduced me to Mr. Medina. In that first meeting, they both show enthusiasm for my new position and laugh to one another about the trial period I am about to go through. After receiving my backstage all-access badge, I am shown my way to Puff’s dressing room. I am greeted by two hulking security guards named Big Roy AKA “Killa” & Big Bob with another flanking the side named Billy Evans, an older gentleman from the West Coast. They alert Puff that I am waiting and after a 5-10 minute wait I am allowed to enter. The dressing room was all white. White sofas, white love seats, white chairs, white curtains, white everything. That shit looked like heaven…