AUSTIN, TX – Earlier this month, many celebrated the 20th anniversary of Biggie’s death, including Diddy, who hosted a Biggie night at a Brooklyn Nets game and even a Brooklyn supermarket honored Big with limited edition grocery bags.
On Saturday (March 18), My Mixtapez partnered with Jordan Brand to bring a special activation to Austin, TX during the music portion of SXSW. While festival-goers were happily strolling through 6th street, they were able to come inside the My Mixtapez House for this exclusive Biggie art installation, which revealed never-before-seen photos of the Hip Hop legend, provided by The Notorious B.I.G.’s estate.
Before doors opened at 1 p.m., friends and family were able to come for an exclusive preview. HipHopDX had the pleasure of attending, as well catching up with James Cruz, President of Bad Boy Records and Diddy’s manager. During the interview, he spoke on the collaboration with Jordan Brand, his relationship with Biggie, and some of his favorite pieces in the room.
James states, “The real focus of this is the celebration of life. 20 years, we lost Notorious B.I.G., and 20 years ago, Michael Jordan put out a Jordan 13, considered the GOAT of basketball. And we consider Big the GOAT of Hip Hop. So to put these two brands together, along with the Bad Boy brand and My Mixtapez brand, brings together a force of positive energy and reinforcement for Hip Hop and the culture. That’s why we did all this- to celebrate life.”
Cruz describes this 20-year mark as “reflective.” He explains, “You start to think about what we’ve accomplished with Big, and what we’ve accomplished without him here. But then you realize, he’s always been here. He’s always been right next to us the whole time as an angel guiding us. As you can feel the energy in here is amazing — Big is here.”
DX asked about Cruz’ relationship with Biggie. “I was really young in the game coming up back then. But Big had this thing about Puerto Ricans. He was like, ‘Yo Cruz, you and Fat Joe. I’m cool with y’all. Y’all are cool.’ And he used to make fun of us. Big was always cracking jokes and making fun.
“But it was like a growth in Hip Hop, in a time when we did it, because it was just about the love, it wasn’t about the business. And Sean and his relationship with Big, that brotherhood they had, it was just so inspiring. We all a movement. It’s a Bad Boy family.” Cruz then gave a tour of the gallery around him.
“This was one of the last photos of Big before he left us,” he shares about the image above. “That one’s very special and touches me in a special way.”
Another image stood out for different reasons.
“But the one that touches me the most is this seeing one over here: him next to The World Trade Center (Twin Towers). That’s just a moment. He represented New York and Brooklyn so much. To see that, and to see the pain and loss in that photo, but then also see the inspiration and love in that photo at the same time.”
The commemorative event also featured special performances by The LOX and Christian Combs. The collaborative shoes will be released to the public on the Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday (May 21).