We spoke with DJ Enuff about The Notorious B.I.G.’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Biggie’s affinity for Pepsi, whether fans can expect more unreleased material, and more.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s relevance and reputation for excellence within the music world remain unquestioned, evidenced by the rap icon’s upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Only the second solo rap artist and seventh hip-hop act overall to be inducted, Biggie joins the likes of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A., and Tupac Shakur. Originally announced in January 2020, and set to take place on May 2, Biggie’s — as well as the rest of the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class — induction was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with the induction ceremony now set to take place virtually and then debut on Saturday, Nov. 7 on HBO, close friends, peers, and collaborators have begun to commemorate the occasion. DJ Enuff, The Notorious B.I.G.’s friend and former road DJ, is among them. In partnership with Pepsi, DJ Enuff has unleashed an exclusive, previously unreleased freestyle from Biggie extolling the virtues of an ice-cold bottle or can of Pepsi Cola. The freestyle, which was remastered, is accompanied by a unique animation short by Antnamation (Ant Blue), which includes several nods to Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, a constant fixture within Biggie’s rhymes.
In addition to the freestyle, Pepsi, DJ Enuff, and HOT97 are launching the Big Pepsi Freestyle Challenge, a contest for up and coming hip hop artists to showcase their talents. The contest is a three week, winner-take-all rap battle judged by both the Hot 97 team and the public. Contestants must use an exclusive 60-second track and include at least one lyrical reference to Pepsi in their submission. Winners will be chosen by Hot 97’s DJ Enuff, DJ Kast One of the Ebro In The Morning team, and battle rap legend Loaded Lux. The winner will receive four free nights of studio time and one week of digital marketing support from Pepsi and Hot 97.
With the freestyle now officially out, we spoke with DJ Enuff about The Notorious B.I.G.’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Pepsi freestyle’s origins, Biggie’s affinity for Pepsi, whether fans can expect more unreleased material, and more.
As The Notorious B.I.G.’s tour DJ, you were around to see the full ride. How does it feel to see him being honored as the second solo hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
I think it’s incredible because Biggie’s gone so far with being, sometimes, so simplistic yet people see the complexity and the storytelling and what he brought to the table as an emcee. And the fact that we got to see that from its inception, the very beginning of B.I.G.’s career to now, it’s amazing. And I think this is an incredible way to honor him, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
What do you think would be a realistic and candid reaction from Biggie if he was here to receive the news himself?
Oh, he’d by hype. He’d probably wanna have a party right now and celebrate. Like, “Everybody, we made it. We did it, Brooklyn [laughs].”
How do you feel he would celebrate?
It would definitely be big — red carpet, five-star, everyone dressing up to the nine. That’s the style. Biggie would’ve loved to get dressed up for this.
Can you tell us about the origins of that freestyle?
To be honest with you, there was another rap group that we saw put down a commercial for a competing soda company and we were excited about that. And then, this was like the beginning of the culture just being accepted in mass media, all across the damn world. From television to movies, even the stuff we drank, so it was amazing to see that. And the fact that he wanted to do one, I was humbled, like, “Let’s do it.” So we came up with a funny concept, me just searching the fridge and just [trying to] find something to drink, and I find him a Pepsi. I throw it to him and he just starts rapping about the Pepsi, and that’s as simple as it was.
When you and Biggie did the freestyle, were there plans to do a commercial?
There was plans to execute it and there were plans to start the Pepsi DJ Division. They had [a] treatment. I think Spike Lee was gonna shoot the video and do a bunch of stuff, and I don’t think the first treatment was passed properly to Ms. Wallace. I think she passed on it. So here we are again, just trying to show love to the late, great Notorious B.I.G.
Being that it’s been over twenty years since his passing, what made you hold off on releasing the freestyle until now?
The last time we tried to do this, for real for real, was when the Biggie movie [Notorious] dropped. Those were the original plans to get this commercial dropped, during the release of his own movie, and then, it didn’t work. And then, this was another look, “Biggie’s getting inducted to the Rock & Roll [Hall of Fame] let’s try it one more time.” And look, we’re here now. You’re interviewing me, so this is it. I ain’t gonna lie, something that was done 25 years ago getting light today, in 2020, is bananas.
Is there’s any other unreleased freestyles or bits left in the vault?
There has to be something left, of what kind of quality, I’m not too sure. But somebody has something. When you’re around artists who like to record all of the time… just think about what I got. I have something and I didn’t even think it was ever gonna make it. So there’s probably something out there attached to something that could be something or could be dissected to be something.”
Artist Cey Adams, who was also a friend of Biggie’s, was involved in the visual aspect of the collaboration. What is your history with Cey and how would you describe his role in all of this?
I know Cey from the early days, when I used to work over at Def Jam for a little while. But prior to that, I’ve seen him around the hip-hop scene, you know, in nightclubs and the graf scene. He’s an ill, old-school graf head and just to know him and see him downtown for many years and see him in different places, it’s amazing to be working with him. So it’s actually an honor for me to know Cey’s working on the project.
Pepsi has also partnered with you and HOT97 to launch a freestyle competition, which will be decided by an online poll and give fans a chance to quote their favorite bars on social media. Can you tell us more about the competition and what the public can expect?
I just think we’re giving people an opportunity to spit those bars. Me and some of the Heavy Hitter DJs are gonna try to pick somebody who we feel has the potential to make it and they’ll get a shot to probably record something in the studio and they’ll get an opportunity to promote it, so to me, that’s a big deal.
Preezy Brown is a New York City–based reporter and writer, filling the empty spaces within street and urban culture. A product of the School of Hard Knocks, Magna Cum Laude. The Crooklyn Dodger. Got Blunt?