R.A. The Rugged Man Remembers Watching Biggie Write Rhymes In The Studio (Video)
Early on in his career, R.A. The Rugged Man worked alongside The Notorious B.I.G., but the musical partnership was cut short when Biggie was killed in 1997. However, the Long Island, New York MC was around early enough to witness Christopher Wallace before, during, and after he became Big Poppa, which has given him particular insight into the icon that most don’t have. For example, R.A. spent time in the recording studio with Big before he blew up – and before he reportedly switched up his writing process. In a recent interview with VladTV, R.A. comments on baring witness to Biggie’s rhyme writing, a strategy he apparently gave up later on in his career.
Before broaching the subject, Vlad asks his guest to comment on the fact that Eminem once reportedly had all of Kendrick Lamar’s team vacate the studio to make sure the Compton MC was writing his own rhymes, and R.A. is taken aback. At the 1:03 mark, he says “I remember being in Chung King [Studios] with every rapper on the planet, and noone was like ‘everyone leave to make sure you’re all writing your own shit.’ We all got our pad, Biggie, Redman, whoever was in the studio, Busta…I watched everybody work, grab their pad, some might smoke somethin’, some might go in the corner, and you write your shit [and you say] ‘alright, I’m ready.’ And you go in the booth.”
That leads Vlad to comment “Jay Z started talking about never writing anything down…he can memorize it fast” (1:39). In response, R.A. says “they say that Big did the same thing,” referring to the well-known lore that Biggie never wrote down his rhymes. “Maybe somewhere later in his career he did, but it wasn’t true when I knew him” (2:28) He continues, “I was with him two different occasions…both times, he just took out the pen and wrote his rhyme. And then years later, [I started hearing] ‘Big just does it off the head.’ I’m like, ‘nah. He writes his rhymes, what are you talkin’ about?’ So, maybe later in his career he started doing that, but, like, when I knew him on the come-up, he wasn’t just rappin’…we all took our shit serious.”
It’s then that a clip from a former VladTV interview with Clark Kent is spliced in, in which the famed producer discusses being in the booth with Jigga and Big – specifically during the recording of “Brooklyn’s Finest,” when he says he had to explain to Biggie that Jay Z didn’t write down his rhymes. “He was mystified,” Clark said at the time of the interview. “From that point, Big stopped writing rhymes,” he added. In response, R.A. says “maybe that’s why [Biggie] did it, ’cause of Jay…rappers have egos. ‘If Jay’s gonna do it, I’m gonna do it.’ ‘Cause that’s after the two records I did [with Biggie]. So maybe, at that point…but, like I said, during the come-up, he wasn’t doing that.”
Perhaps Biggie’s transition from writing rhymes down to spitting them from the dome will be a subject touched on in the upcoming documentary on his life, One More Chance, which is produced in part by his mother, Voletta Wallace.