Impact: Voletta Wallace: My Son, Biggie
Tuesday, Dec 20, 2005 12:00AM
Heads might grow tired of artists using and comparing themselves to The Notorious B.I.G., but Voletta Wallace isn\'t. It\'s all good as long as you ask first.
In the eight years since her son was killed, Miss Wallace has retired from teaching and is now dedicating her time to running the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation. She has also taken legal action against the LAPD, accusing the department of covering up evidence regarding her son\'s death. The killer has yet to be found and the case was declared a mistrial this past summer. Though the grief persists, Wallace has helped celebrate Big\'s life as of late. She released Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son in late October and co-signed Biggie Duets, which is hitting stores today. In this SOHH.com exclusive, Voletta Wallace remembers her son, and confirms both Diddy\'s support and Lil\' Kim\'s offense.
SOHH.com: As a Biggie fan, I always have issues with hearing posthumous stuff, but I was speaking to Afeni Shakur once and I realized that if anyone has a say on it, it\'s the artist\'s mother. How do you feel about hearing posthumous releases or hearing collaborations with people that didn\'t know Biggie?
Voletta Wallace: You know when I hear posthumous stuff that makes me feel good because it\'s telling me that they have a great deal of respect for my son. They love his work. They love his art. And they just want to be a part of Biggie, so it makes me feel closer to him. The only time I feel upset or violated is when they use it without asking. So when I hear something on the radio, I have to ask, "Did I give permission for that?" And sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. And if they say no, I really feel offended, not only offended but angry. Because I feel that it\'s downright disrespectful.
SOHH.com: Did you have a hand in Biggie Duets at all?
VW: I did give my utmost approval. The project was brought forth to me. Some of the friends I approved of and some of the friends I wanted to be on it. I know my son didn\'t have enough work for him to just have an album by himself, solo or alone. So when Puffy came up with the idea of duets, I thought it was a wonderful thing. I didn\'t know where it was going, but listening to it and the artists that came, that put their bars on it. They wanted to do it. They enjoyed doing it. This is a project that they all wanted to be a part of.
SOHH.com: I\'m assuming that Biggie\'s kids listen to his music.
VW: C.J., I don\'t know. Tyanna, my granddaughter does.
SOHH.com: How old is she?
VW: She\'s 12. I think C.J. does listen to it. They might have clean versions around. I get clean versions. I ask for clean versions.
SOHH.com: But even with the clean versions a lot of times it\'s easy to fill in the blanks.
VW: But if you have to think negative, you\'re gonna see and feel negative. If you hear a little blank put in a nice word in there. I always [used to] tell my students when I was teaching. Instead of using profanity, just say bottle. "You bottled head." "You book head." I always think positive, so I don\'t even foster the thought of the children or [that] anyone [is] gonna put in the blank with the nasty, nasty words.
SOHH.com: You said you\'ve listened to the album, is there a particular song that you like?
VW: There are a few of them that I like a lot. I like the Bob Marley piece, the Bob Marley joint. I\'m talking like you guys now. [Laughs] I always wanted Christopher to do something with Bob Marley and Jay-Z. I approached Jay-Z a few years ago and I told him that whenever I do a Biggie project I really would like to... actually I didn\'t tell him I wanted him to be on it. I told him Christopher would like for him to be on it and he said yes. Afeni [Shakur], she and I had a conversation. I gave her some of Biggie\'s work and off course. We just shared. You know you scratch my back and I scratch yours.
SOHH.com: I definitely wanted to ask you about that. You two [Afeni and Voletta] first met at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. How was the experience? What did you guys talk about?
VW: We yapped backstage like there was no tomorrow. We talked as if we knew each other for years. We\'ve communicated since.
SOHH.com: How closely do you follow the Hip-Hop scene?
VW: Not as closely as I would want to. Hip-Hop is not my life. I have other things to do. But I have a great deal of respect for Hip-Hop and its artists. But as far as going to bed, sleeping Hip-Hop, waking up with Hip-Hop, no. It\'s a culture along with its music. Music is a big part of its culture, but I\'m not Hip-Hop. But my son\'s work is there, so I\'m gonna make sure it\'s being respected.
SOHH.com: You don\'t follow that closely, but I\'m sure you\'re familiar with some of the artists. Is there an artist or emcee that impresses you in one way or another?
VW: Lots of them. I\'ve seen their work. It could be just a single from their album. For example, Eminem, I like his work because he tells a beautiful story. We might not like his story, but it\'s a nice story. 50 Cent. Hey, you tell me somebody who doesn\'t rap with "In the Club" and I\'m gonna show you a hypocrite. Ja Rule, Nas. I love Nas. Jay-Z. There\'s a lot of them out there. I love Nelly. Even though I might just hear a single... I don\'t buy their CDs. If the single is good I\'m gonna buy it.
SOHH.com: I read reports where they highlighted a passage of your book, Biggie: Voletta Wallace Remembers Her Son. It said that you felt Diddy and Lil\' Kim were "exploiting" your son\'s name. Diddy later denied it. Can you confirm this?
VW: I didn\'t say that he exploited. I spoke of people. And off course the next chapter was Puffy, so everybody is gonna take Puffy and throw him to the wolves, the dogs and the mules and the cows. What I said in the book is I didn\'t know Puffy prior to my son\'s death and I have no doubt that he loved my son after his death. And I said that to say that after my son\'s death, I\'ve seen Puffy. I\'ve seen Puffy\'s eyes. I\'ve seen the tears. I\'ve seen the way he spoke of my son and that, to me, spells love. In the past, like I said I never knew him. To me he was just my son\'s boss, a producer where everywhere I turned, he was there and I questioned my son about it. And my son told me to mind my own damn business. Not damn, but \'mind your business ma. It is my work. You go teach, I rap.\'
SOHH.com: I recently heard you call into Hot 97...
VW: [jumps in] I told Lil\' Cease to mind his own damn business. And I meant every word of it because... evidently there was a couple of artists who had beef with Puffy. That\'s their beef. How the heck did Miss Wallace come into this? I can take care of myself. I can take care of my business. I don\'t need anyone to do it for me. If I find I can\'t do it, I find myself a lawyer. It wasn\'t his place to speak for me. As a matter of fact what he spoke about was so eight years from the truth. I\'ve taken care of business a long time ago. But I don\'t go and tell Cease my business. So you don\'t know my business ask me. Don\'t go on national radio and go spit yourself like a fool and make a jackass out of yourself when you don\'t know what you\'re talking about.
SOHH.com: Have you spoken to Cease since?
VW: Yes I did and he apologized. We\'re cool.
SOHH.com: Fans take the music and old interviews and build this image of Biggie, what do you think is the biggest misconception about your son?
VW: See I never knew Biggie. I saw my son in concert once. He begged me to come and watch him perform. I believe he was at the Mirage. But I don\'t know the entertainer. I\'m learning about my son after his death. I knew Christopher Wallace. That\'s the person I know. And people never knew Christopher Wallace. This is a kid who cried when his friend died. This is a kid who doesn\'t eat because he\'s worried about the family. This is the kid who sees a woman doing drugs and [would] take her and go place her into a place to get cleaned up. That\'s Christopher Wallace. The entertainer I don\'t know. Notorious B.I.G I don\'t know. I\'m learning a lot now about Notorious B.I.G., the writer, the artist, the performer.
SOHH.com: Based on what you told me earlier, it seems like Puffy has been very supportive since Biggie\'s passing.
VW: [jumps in] I have no doubt that he supported my son then. But I\'ve seen the support now because I\'m here and I\'m a part of it. And I have to speak about it because I\'ve seen it.
SOHH.com: Lil\' Kim, Puff, Cease are the names usually associated with Biggie. Since his passing how have they been supportive of you?
VW: Well, Puffy is supportive because he\'s here. I can pick up the phone and I can call him and he\'ll respond. Lil\' Kim is in jail, I\'m definitely as hell ain\'t gonna call her. After my son\'s death, believe it or not, Lil\' Kim and I were close, but I guess she doesn\'t... I\'m a woman who speaks my mind and sometimes you say things, the truth hurts and you take it the wrong way. I did not like the way she was [talking] over national television and the radio about Biggie, the love of her life, her heart, her nose, her mouth, her butt, every part of her. Christopher is not here to defend himself. And I was offended. I let her know and she didn\'t like it and I don\'t give a hoot. And as far as Lil\' Cease is concerned, you know they\'re all struggling. Christopher is not here. He was a figure in their life that they looked up to and he was not here and everybody just went their separate ways and the way that they went wasn\'t the straight way. As a result they all went down the toilet. And I wish them well. I might tell them to go to hell, mind their own damn business, but deep down I wish them well.
SOHH.com: It seems he was such a pilar, such a central figure that kept everything together. How different do you think things would be amongst them if Big was still here?