The B.I.G. Opener
[00:00:00.490] - P Ed
It's been a long time. I shouldn't left you without episodes to sift through. Copycat podcast came and crept through. Time's up. Sorry.
[00:00:12.470] - stage manager
Hey P, let's start the show.
[00:00:13.980] - Lisa Matthews
You are now tuned to the Park Edison Project.
[00:00:18.570] - P Ed
Good morning and welcome to season two of the Parker Edison Project. This time around, we're showing you culture as a lifestyle. This is how the tenets come in to plan your day to day life. And of course, for the opening episode, we had to do something B.I.G... For those that don't know. Today, March 9, marks the 25th year since the passing of legendary Brooklyn rapper Notorious BIG. In celebration of his life and legacy, we're dedicating this episode to his LP Opus Ready to Die, which was released September 13, 1994, four days after my 17th birthday. A few months ago, I helped host the Happiness of Pursuit festival in Ontario, California, and while I was backstage, I asked a few of the acts how they first came to know Biggie's first album.
[00:01:45.490] - ...
[00:02:25.040] - P Ed
I did most of my schooling in San Diego, but I did my senior year in El Paso, Texas. I vividly remember being in the basement of my father's house seeing the music vid for Big Juicy on Rap City. I was already a fan from his feature on the Dolly My Baby Remix with Supercat, it rose to number 27 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated as Best Rap Solo Performance in the 96 Grammy Awards. By 2018, Ready to Die was six times platinum. Today, it's regarded by many as one of the greatest rap albums of all time. I got my copy a week after its release and had it memorized by the end of the month. Every song except the last one. Something about that last track was too dark, too real, too close to home. Still, even then, I knew it was a classic. Daily, I would volley between that and Tupac's Me Against the World album. A lot of people bought into the East Coast West Coast rivalry. Not me. I saw a clear, mutual admiration. One of the first things you hear on Big's first album was a snippet from Snoop's Doggy style. Big loved the West Coast, the music and the people. There are stories about him playing out here. In fact, for this episode, we'll hear details from a real rap aficionado about the time Biggie played a club right here in SD. Im talking about Club Banks in Mission Valley. Some of y'all don't know nothing about that, but before we get into that, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the time that's passed since season one. The pandemic has changed so much of what we knew to be the norm. Luckily, things are finally picking back up, and that includes live shows and performances. I mentioned the Happiness of Pursuit Festival and the opening of the show. I know some of you aren't in the loop of what that's all about. So I got on the phone with this creator, 60 east, to get you up to speed and hear what it's like booking events in this strange time. What's your name and what city are you in right now?
[00:04:27.300] - 60east
60 east. I'm on the freeway. I'm actually on the 60 east freeway right now. I don't know what city I'm in, though.
[00:04:33.610] - P Ed
Hey, for the listeners, can you just run down some of your resumes so they can see all the different hats that you wear?
[00:04:39.560] - 60east
Yeah, I'm an artist, first and foremost founder of the Happiness of Pursuit Festival, which recently started about five years ago. I warned many hats from tour manager, managing artists, booking agent, press, media marketing, all that stuff. Being an independent artist, you kind of got away multiple hats. I learned really quick that no one's just out here trying to help you, you know what I mean? So I just started managing myself and booking myself and all that.
[00:05:05.690] - P Ed
What is THOPFest?
[00:05:07.530] - 60east
THOPFest is an independent hip hop festival. I have been throwing shows locally for a couple of years now, and that's kind of like deciding to try to step it up. And I always had the idea of throwing a festival, and one year we just kind of did it and it was small and it just continued to grow it year by year. And now we're kind of like one of the bigger independent hip hop festivals in the country.
[00:05:29.770] - P Ed
What is MURS tie into that?
[00:05:32.100] - 60east
MURS put me on my first festival as an artist back in 2013. MURS kind of had to open up a slot on the show for artists like all around the world. And then me and my crew actually won that spot. Being at the Paid Dues Festival. To this day, I say I was the best day of my life. That was, like, the first day to let me know that I'm really doing this. I was on the bill with, like, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Trinidad James, Tech, Nine, anybody who was doing it that year. It was a stack lineup to have my name on that really did something. I always had it in the back of my mind and always wanted to do something similar. And like I just said, that was the best day of my life. And if I could offer that, like, another young up and coming artist, I think that would be dope.
[00:06:19.760] - P Ed
THOPFest is the festival we're talking about. T h op Fest. What does that stand for?
[00:06:25.050] - 60east
The happiness of pursuit. I had read a book in the book the author, he wanted to travel to every country in the world before the age of 35. And as he was on his journey, he decided instead of writing the book about his own experiences, he was going to write the book about all the people he met on his journey that were on journeys of their own. And it kind of made me realize of, like, all the artists I've gotten to me while touring around the world, people that I always thought were dope. I was a man. It would be cool if I had a platform where they can share their story. When it was time to come up with the concept of the festival, I was like, I want to create this platform in my hometown and offer the opportunity to perform to all these people who I've met on my journey that were on journeys of their own, kind of again, just like that full circle moment. But it was all really inspired by..
[00:07:13.610] - P Ed
What's the most difficult part of throwing shows in the middle of pandemic.
[00:07:19.890] - 60east
I always say working with rappers, that's just kind of like an ongoing joke. I mean, in the middle of a pandemic, it was kind of like that definitely threw a lot of corn screws at us, especially since this is just show that we were supposed to throw last year that we kind of had to salvage. So that was like a problem in itself. Was trying to maintain the same lineup that we had announced the year before. The whole vaccination thing. Wherever you lie or stand on that line of whatever's going on, like, as far as throwing an event, it would just kind of have an answer those questions and dealing with whatever side of the point people were on, reassuring people and all that stuff, you know what I mean? Even having to have that conversation with the city, and we have to get, like, permits with the city and all the permissions from the fire Department, police Department, and all that. So at the front gate, we were handing out mask sanitizer, other things to help people stay clean throughout the day. We got through it and make sure to put the safety of everyone as a priority.
[00:08:26.110] - P Ed
This episode is, of course airing on March 9, which is the 25th anniversary of Notorious B. I. G's. Passing. What is your first memory of Biggie?
[00:08:36.890] - 60east
I specifically remember being a kid, and, I mean, this was 97, so I was about seven or eight years old. I was writing rap. My brother was a producer, and he was, like, making beats or whatever. I mean, we were just like, hip hop kid. And this is the early Internet days, too. So I don't know what popped up or what website my brother was on or whatever he actually said. They're like, oh, Biggie just got shot or something. Biggie died or something like that. I've never forgotten that's when I've heard that he died.
[00:09:14.430] - P Ed
Show promoters like 60 east are the cornerstone of any music scene. Creating opportunities for artists to perform with big name acts and bringing those big acts to your city for you to experience. Like The Notorious BIG. Their legwork makes a place for people to make memories they couldn't get anywhere else. If you've never been to the Happiness of Pursuit Festival, it's one of the few places you can still experience budding underground wrap acts while they're still on the rise. It's a vibe super grateful to 60 east for dropping in to give us some backstory. I got to knock out this commercial break real fast. Look, don't go nowhere. I got the goods for you today. Stay put.
[00:09:56.030] - Lisa Matthews
Stay tuned for more of the PEP
[00:09:59.460] - comm
Hello, this is Maya from Mayas Cookie San Diego. We are America's number one black gourmet vegan cookie company. You can check us out on our social media and Maya's Cookie San Diego.
[00:10:33.350] - P Ed
Where were you the first time you ever heard Biggie's Ready to Die album?
[00:10:37.370] - Wacko
Wow, man. I would say it was me and my homies. We were just chilling, lighting up a joint, having some forties. I think it was Mickey's Ice. It was a tape.. Tape.. The tape.
[00:10:49.440] - P Ed
[00:10:50.750] - Wacko
My name is Wacko. Wacko Films. I'm originally from East Los Angeles.
[00:10:55.740] - Wacko
I'm the video director for IheartMedia, and I'm also a director, producer and creator.
[00:11:01.490] - P Ed
Man. While we were brainstorming ideas for this episode, my producer, Kurt, brought up an old rumor of rapper Notorious B-I-G. Playing shows in the city. What's your name and what city are you from?
[00:11:12.470] - Alex Lopez
Alex Lopez. I'm from San Diego.
[00:11:15.380] - P Ed
We're talking about the Notorious B-I-G. Being here in San Diego. How did this happen?
[00:11:20.950] - Alex Lopez
I used to be with Jamaica House. There's a club out of La. It's actually the biggest hip hop spot in La. And they also had a record company, Kissing Records. He was my label mate, My MC. His name was Mystery from San Diego. He was also on the same label. So that's how I got hooked up with Jamaica House. They started doing stuff down here in Dago. I was actually part of the team that promoted Biggie's first album in San Diego. Street promo for Ready to Die. That was a big thing at the time. It was clothing show was in San Diego and they decided to do Jamaica House same week. That night was nuts because DJ Jam, he was the headlining DJ. We had DJ Rags, San Diego legend myself.
[00:12:10.070] - P Ed
What year was this?
[00:12:11.600] - Alex Lopez
I want to say it was 94.
[00:12:13.390] - P Ed
Can you give us just one Biggie memory that you have?
[00:12:17.450] - Alex Lopez
Yeah. It's not even show related. He was refusing to go on that night. He wasn't feeling well. He was supposedly feeling under the weather, but he kept smoking blood. My boy, that was with us. He was the main contact with Bad Boy and Puff. He got Puff on the phone. Puff yelled at Big and told him, you have to perform
[00:12:40.510] - P Ed
[00:12:41.640] - Alex Lopez
It was him, Cease and Lil Kim. It was an incredible show. Everybody that was there was into it. What was real cool is the following Wednesday was the Jamaica House in La. And so we got the show down here in Daygo. And then in La, he brought out Mary J. Blige. Puff was his hype man instead of Cease. That was a show. And then Big was all the way up for that one. He didn't argue or I'm not performing or any of that stuff. That show in La was insane. And I used to have a copy of that on VHS and I somehow lost it or someone got me for it.
[00:13:39.850] - P Ed
Somebody got the Crown Jewel Man just posted in their house, man.
[00:13:45.040] - Alex Lopez
Yeah, actually, two of them, they took my roots. I had the Roots. They were the first show at Jamaica House. And it was crazy because they were performing. And then they had Rahzel and Biz was in the audience that night. Biz got on stage and Rahzel and him battled.
[00:14:03.290] - P Ed
That's something that should be in the Smithsonian. What was it like promoting at that time?
[00:14:08.720] - Alex Lopez
It was crazy. I mean, it was dope because at the time everything was vinyl. So I just went around to all the DJs and went around to all the clubs and gave them all the records and asked them to play the joints at the club on the spot. It got me into a lot of spots that normally when you show up wearing sneakers, jeans, and this is in the 90s, you don't get into the clubs. And I was just walking right in with a bag full of records and servicing all the DJs.
[00:14:35.890] - P Ed
Just insane. And this will be out on March 9. This episode is running the 25th anniversary of BIGs passing. So it's so dope for you to just take a few minutes and tell us what it was like when he was here.
[00:14:48.430] - Alex Lopez
[00:14:49.430] - P Ed
What's the most underrated record on Ready to Die to you?
[00:14:53.340] - Alex Lopez
Machine Gun funk. That's one of my favorites, honestly. And a big record for me is who shot you. Just a side story. I actually was DJing in La, and Pac came in the building and I played that record.
[00:15:06.720] - P Ed
That's bonkers. Had you run into Tupac or seen him live before then?
[00:15:11.910] - Alex Lopez
Actually there at the club, and everybody has all these great stories of him, and I Unfortunately don't. So that's why I dropped the record. I'm not trying to throw shade on the man. I mean, he was great. He was awesome. I still got his records. It's just I had an unfortunate encounter, so Big was much cooler with me. I got to hang out with them multiple times. Super cool cat. Everybody who met Big love Big.
[00:15:43.540] - P Ed
I was at a show and I got to talk to a couple of different rappers, and I was asking them with their underrated track on that. And Chino XL said Machine Gun Funk, too. So you're in good company.
[00:15:52.970] - P Ed
Nice Chinos Dope.
[00:15:54.690] - Alex Lopez
I got to promote his record, too, when he was on Rick Rubins label.
[00:15:57.300] - P Ed
Yes, sir. But your resume is incredible. And you're still DJing these days, huh?
[00:16:01.890] - Alex Lopez
Yeah, I still DJ. I have my own company. I do weddings, corporate events. I mean, just to keep DJing. I love the art of it. I love the culture. So it's probably going to be something I do to death. Well, my government name is Alex Lopez. My DJ name is DJ Al C. I had that name since the 80s. My company is supreme DJ Entertainment. Here in San Diego.
[00:16:28.150] - P Ed
We act low key, but we got so many stories like that ask Jayo Felony, ask Swizz Beats neighbors. It's really happening out here. That's what this podcast does. We spotlight ordinary people with abnormally interesting experiences. Between me and you, this city is little Hollywood, but that's another story. It's not confirmed yet, but word on the street is there'll be a THOPFest promotional tour early 2022. I'm already trying to fandangle some tickets to give away to listeners here on the podcast. Be on the lookout. Go to ParkerEdisonproject.com for more info. I'm going to bring this show to a close with one more nod to the great Christopher Wallace. This is my guy.
[00:17:09.390] - Odessa Kane
[00:17:10.600] - P Ed
[00:17:11.060] - Odessa Kane
Southeast San Diego, Paradise Hills.
[00:17:13.370] - P Ed
And what you're about to hear is an exclusive track. You can only get here on the PEP. Go ahead, find that rewind button because you're going to need it. See you next episode. Stay safe out there.
[00:17:43.950] - Odessa Kane
gimme the loot freestyle
[00:18:35.620] - Speaker 1
Thanks for stopping in the Parker Edison Project is produced and hosted by yours truly, Parker Edison and the good people at Platform Collection. Be sure to subscribe and catch the next episode on Apple Spotify or wherever you get your podcast. If you have any comments or questions, visit TheParkerEdisonproject.com or hit us on Instagram at the PE project. My guy Kurt Kohnen is audio production manager, Lisa Jane Morrisette is operations manager and John Decker is associate general manager for content. This programming is made possible in part by the KPBS Explore Content fund. I love saying that because it reminds me of sesame street. You'll stay safe out there.
• Odessa Kane & Tres ‘Sojourn’ Hodgens - Gimme the Loot (freestyle)
• Joey “60 East” Atilano https://www.sixtyeast.net/
• Wackoe Vincent Enriquez
• DJ Alex Lopez https://supremedjent.com/
Credits: Parker Edison (Host), Kurt Kohnen (Co-creator), Chris Reyes (Head Editor) and Tres ”Sojourn” Hodgens (Score Producer)