After being dragged across Twitter all week for forgetting Biggie’s rhymes at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, Rich Homie Quan offered up comments that will likely stir up another round of conversation.
First, he gave what appeared to be a heartfelt apology on his Instagram. He thanked New York for embracing him in the past, gave Biggie and Lil Kim kudos for their music, and admitted that he had “technical difficulties” and got nervous.
He then elaborated in an interview with V-103 in Atlanta with another explanation. He said that he knew the verse by heart, and blames the forgotten lyrics on bad nerves and a malfunctioning teleprompter, but then also admitted that despite how well known the song is around the country, knowing the song wasn't a priority where he is from.
“Being from Atlanta, I grew up on Kilo Ali, Outkast and T.I. Only song I know by Biggie is ‘Juicy.’”
These remarks sound similar to what Lupe Fiasco said after flubbing the lyrics of “Electric Relaxation” during a tribute to A Tribe Called Quest at the Hip Hop Honors in 2007.
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“I DID NOT GROW UP ON ATCQ!!! **THE LITTLE GHETTO KID FROM THE MEAN STREETS OF THE WESTSIDE OF CHICAGO GREW UP ON SPICE 1, 8-BALL & MJG, NWA AND SNOOP DOGG,” Lupe infamously wrote on Okayplayer. “I WASNT A BACKPACKER RAP ENTHUSIAST!!!...I NEVER CLAIMED TO BE...I GREW UP ON GANGSTA RAP!!! HAVE I LISTENED TO MM IN ITS ENTIRETY?...NO!!!...(Sorry Quest)...GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSES AND YOUR SACRED COWS...SOME OF YA'LL MAKE ME SICK..."
Quan and Lupe definitely approached their explanations with different tones: Quan was apologetic and contrite, while Lupe had grown defensive after all the backlash he had received.
Regardless, outside of the specific performance, the flub and subsequent explanation raises an interesting question. How many of us outside of the South could recite a Kilo Ali song? How many of us outside of the South even know who Kilo Ali is? Biggie is a transcendent hip-hop figure, but we can no longer assume that a knowledge of his music and lyrics come automatically for everyone.
Regionalism is part of what has made hip-hop such a cultural force. Artists grow up in different areas in different times, all of them with different musical forces shaping them. Rich Homie Quan was a terrible choice for the awards, and purely as a performer he simply failed to do his job. But him messing up Biggie’s lyrics, or not growing up around Biggie's music, doesn't make him any less of a hip-hop fan.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Instagram