Jigga Please: when the chicanery of Black capitalism comes home to roost

A Scribe Called Quess
15 min readAug 21, 2019
Still (nigga) from Jay-Z’s “The Story of OJ” video. Rings prescient now…

There’s this grainy old tape of Biggie Smalls when he first came out in the early 90’s. In it, he’s got his arm hanging casually around the shoulder of one of the rappers from an infamous group at the time named Onyx. His eyes are characteristically low, one cockeyed as he looks into and simultaneously away from the camera. “Yeah,” he says,”we coming after all you Big Willie crackers…” and he continues on about how he and his generation of rappers plan to make their big come up into riches through the rap game. His fellow Brooklyn “God MC” Jay-Z was still a few years from catching up with him as a household name. But in that brief moment, Biggie had already told us everything we needed to know about what his cohort Jay-Z and all of the up and coming rappers of his day would mean to the rap game and ultimately (Black) American culture at large. For that matter, Biggie had just unwittingly defined an ethos for an approaching generation or two of Black folks (especially men). For better or for so much worse…

Biggie would die in an infamous shooting in LA only a few years later which would leave his legacy epic yet incomplete. His mother, Voletta Wallace, would file a wrongful death lawsuit for millions of dollars in an attempt to claim the lost earnings that Biggie was projected to have earned had he staid alive. In his absence, and the absence of his rival hip hop king Tupac (killed under equally specious and notorious circumstances in Las Vegas six months prior), the rap world was left to be governed by the remaining top MCs in the game. Between the years of 1998 and 2002, culminating with a nasty and hugely publicized bout with fellow heir apparent to the hip hop throne, Nas, Jay-Z would emerge victorious and ultimately earn the seat as king of the nigga kingdom. If for no other reason than he said so, Jay claimed the title as “best rapper of alive” while simultaneously parlaying his rap related business ventures into a multi-million dollar empire.

It’s like if Sam Cooke had chosen to partner with the boxing industry the year that his friend Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing for taking a stance against the Vietnam War.

As of this year, 23 years after the release of his first album, his empire has amassed a net worth of a billion dollars. And just…

A Scribe Called Quess

The Ellisonian Basement is a collection of my writings on Blackness & visibility in the post-modern world, OR Duboisian double consciousness under surveillance.