BROOKLYN, New York -- Diddy says March 9 should be a national holiday, observing the life and legacy of his friend the Notorious B.I.G., who died on that day in 1997. On Tuesday night, he threw a special party in B.I.G.'s hometown, and rounded up his troops, Rick Ross, Fabolous, Red Café and Busta Rhymes, and headed out to the nightspot The Lab.
"All Diddy told me was to set up a stage," Brooklyn DJ Mister Cee, who discovered Biggie back in the early '90s, said early in the night. "I don't know who's coming, I don't know who's not coming. But if you're not in this building, you're gonna miss something legendary. Diddy told me he's gonna show his ass tonight. He said, 'Tonight, I'm not Diddy, I'm back to being Puffy.' That means he's taking it back to '94, '95."
Cee and Puff starting planning the festivities at the top of the year.
"First time ever Diddy-Dirty Money in Brooklyn celebrating the life of Notorious B.I.G.," Cee added. "Basically, me and Diddy had conversations about doing this a couple of months ago. I said, 'Diddy, you been running around all over the place. When are you gonna do something in Brooklyn?' He said, 'OK, let's do something in Brooklyn.' We wanted to do it for the memory of Big and also for Brooklyn. Because so many times, Brooklyn gotta go to Manhattan. Brooklyn gotta go to New Jersey. Brooklyn gotta go to Long Island to party. We wanted to do something where the people could stay in their own backyard and have a good time."
Diddy started the night at the DJ booth. Cee played the intro to "Life After Death" and "Somebody's Gotta Die." Diddy then told the crowd he wanted to take it to the stage. He hit the stage wearing a black T-shirt that read "Invisible Bully" and the day's date. "Invisible Bully," of course, is a tip of the hat to Big's famous lyric "invisible bully like the gooch" on the "Flavor in Your Ear" remix.
The music for Puff's "Victory" came on and he rapped his verse, then let the crowd rhyme for Biggie. Busta Rhymes came from the side of the stage throwing water and roaring the thunderous chorus, "We got the real live sh-- from front to back..." From there, Diddy and Rhymes went into "Pass the Courvoisier."
The mic was then passed to Rick Ross, who ignited his stage time with "Hustlin'." From there, the Boss gave a dose of his raps from the Diddy-Dirty Money remix to "Angles." "Brooklyn make some muthaf---in' noise!" Diddy yelled. He then reiterated that the reason everyone was at the Lab on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning was for Biggie.
"We're here to show him love," Diddy yelled. "We wanna thank you, Brooklyn, because Brooklyn made the greatest rapper of all time."
He then called Fabolous and Red Café to the stage. Fab led chants of "Brooooook-lyn!" Cee started playing the famous freestyle that Biggie and Tupac ripped at Madison Square Garden decades ago: "Where Brooklyn at?" "Where Brooklyn at?" Big Poppa's recorded voice called from the speakers. 'Loso then went into "I'mma Do It." Fab and one of Bad Boy's newest recruits, Red Café, then traded verses on "I'm Ill."
"That man had a special love for Brooklyn," Diddy said about Big. "No matter where we was at, London, Japan, Africa, he would always represent Brooklyn to the fullest." More of Big's catalog followed: "Playa Hata," "Warning," and "Mo Money, Mo Problems," with Diddy rapping his guest verse on the track. Of course no Big party would be complete without "One More Chance" or Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Get Money." "It's been 13 years and these n---as still can't see that n---a," Puff proclaimed onstage about his friend's greatness.
Shortly after Diddy and company left the stage, Jadakiss showed up. He ran late, but still came to support.
"We in Brooklyn, just for the record," Busta Rhymes said after the show in the parking lot. "I got so many beautiful people around me. I got so much beautiful family around me. I got so many beautiful supporters of B.I.G. around me. It's a honor to experience a moment. For the first time in the 13 years since the great man's passing, we can experience a moment when you got Red Café on the stage, Diddy on the stage, Busta Rhymes on the stage, Fabolous on the stage, Rick Ross on the stage. Miami! Miami felt it was important to come to Brooklyn, the 'hood. Rick Ross came out here. I salute Ross for that. Mister Cee, stellar performance tonight. The moment felt so golden."