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February is African American Heritage Month and WERS AT NIGHT is honoring one artist or one song every day this month that helped contribute to social consciousness, political responsibility, or civil rights. At WERS, we believe that these songs are always bigger than just entertainment; music can be used to drive a movement or even motivate a nation.
“Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie) did wonders at educating the American masses on what it is like to grow up as an underprivileged black male. While many of Biggie’s verses have more to do with the drugs, violence, and rampant sex prevalent in the 1990s Hip Hop community, he takes time in this rap to explore the issues he faced before making it.
In between verses about 50-inch TVs and chauffer-driven limousines, Biggie exposes a more vulnerable side of himself. He talks about how he was “considered a fool ‘cause I dropped out of high school / Stereotypes of a black male misunderstood.” This rap becomes more than another description of his lavish lifestyle. It is about the struggles he faced in his formative years and how few people really understand what it is like to grow up in the inner city.
“Juicy” also serves as a reminder to kids growing up in an environment similar to Biggie’s childhood that things do get better. He dedicates the song’s entire album to “the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothing,” and goes on to prove them wrong by explaining how successful he now is. Biggie relates his story to others by reminding them to “reach for the stars” and not let others hold them down.
There is no doubt that Notorious B.I.G. is a successful rapper, but it is also important to understand what he did with his fame. Although he was never considered an activist, Biggie did use his mainstream success to educate people on the struggles of “a black male misunderstood.”