mister cee

Without Mister Cee, no Notorious B.I.G.

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giant. He painted beautiful pictures with the simplest lyrics. He would put you in mind of the thug next door and explain why he sold drugs, why he was stressed out, or why he had suicidal thoughts. Once he started getting more confidence, it was over.”

After signing Biggie to a production deal, Mister Cee was instrumental in grooming him for success. Cee worked with Big on perfecting his demo, as well as getting pictures for the rapper’s package to send out to record labels and magazines. After sending everything to The Source magazine (where he was later featured in the Unsigned Hype column), the oversized rapper caught the attention of Sean “Diddy” Combs.

“At the time Puffy was still doing A&R at Uptown Records,” Mr. Cee said. “Biggie didn’t even know who he was, so I explained that Puff was the cat who had worked with Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. In the meeting, Puff asked Big to kick a rhyme. He sat there excited and when Big finished, Puff said, ‘We can have a record out by the summer.’ That’s how fast it happened.”

While Cee had already begun working at Hot 97, he tried to get Puff to sign Biggie through his production company, but the savvy executive refused. As Cee recalled, “I could have been selfish [and withheld consent], but what would I have gained by holding Biggie back?” In exchange for releasing Big, Cee received a finder’s fee and points on the rapper’s debut Ready to Die, where he also supplied the scratches on “Gimmie the Loot.”

Watching his former protégé go on to fame and fortune made Mister Cee proud, and when Big was murdered in 1997, it rocked his world. “The last time I talked to Big was when he was recuperating from a car accident,” Cee remembered. “A few weeks later, he was dead. I went to [Hot 97] right after I heard he was murdered.”

Moreover, it was at Hot 97 he remained until this latest episode of sexual misconduct brought an end to his tenure at the station. “Mister Cee is a talented and exciting DJ,” says Havelock Nelson. “This development might be an opportunity for him to open for or spin behind hip-hop artists like Nas or Jay Z, who’ve gone on record supporting gay rights. His life post coming out depends on the reactions of high caliber artists like these.” 

Cultural critic Michael A. Gonzales has written cover stories for VibeUptownEssenceXXL, Wax Poetics and elsewhere. He’s also written for New York and The Village Voice. Read him at Blackadelic Pop and follow him on Twitter @gonzomike.