So my recent Rap Genius exploits led me to start annotating Notorious B.I.G’s ‘One More Chance/ Stay With Me Remix’, a song that is ostensibly about the pursuit of women for sexual adventures, using wealth as bait. Fair enough.
A few minutes in, I realised that the song (one of my all time favourite tracks) has hidden depths that I am only now starting to appreciate. Which leads me straight to the question: Is Biggie an insecure misogynist?
You can read all of my notes by clicking here or on the picture below, but here’s an extract, focussing on one line in particular:
“The finest women I love with a passion”
Hang on. In the first verse, he declares how he has a predilection for ‘honeys, dummies, playboy bunnies and those wanting money’. Now he’s saying he has a passion for ‘the finest women’.
What’s going on?
Option A: Biggie is confused. He is (like most men, really) sexually insecure and actually seeks the validation of strong, independent, beautiful women. Being sexually unattractive (‘ugly as ever’), he is forced to rely on his wealth, which will only ever attract ‘inferior’ women, so that is what he does. He also resents this, as alluded to by the sinister connotations of ‘death stroke’ and ‘tongue all down your throat’ in Verse 2, which could imply a latent malevolence towards women.
Biggie’s affiliation of fine women to a flashy lifestyle is problematic (as raised by my wife) because it suggests that ‘fine’ women will only ever go for ‘fine’ men. Biggie should perhaps have more confidence in his creativity, intelligence and wit.
Option B: Biggie is seeking to empower women. He understands that many women, like him, (especially from America’s ghettos) are looking to empower themselves through financial means and he appreciates this. (Those wanting money/ They the ones I like…) This song charts the transformation of poor girls into rich girls. Then, in this final verse, he asks if said girl would ever go back to her old life, through the ‘him or me’ dilemma.
Option C: Both. Biggie, like Gatsby, has the power to live his dreams, transform women into queens on earth and win the finest women around, but cannot let go of his poverty-born insecurities. He validates himself through his ability to secure wealth and secure women, which is poignant because he ignores the thing that validates him most of all: his artistry.
Right then, That’s it for now.