Heavy D – The Overweight Lover to Notorious B.I.G

This discussion was documented on April 12, 2012

BrooklynBodega.com and Brooklyn Historical Society recently joined forces to pay homage to Heavy D and trace the link between him and another lyrical and physical heavyweight in hip hop, the Notorious B.I.G.

A dope panel discussion on the hip-hop giants was held at the Brooklyn Historical Society (128 Pierrepoint St., Brooklyn Heights). It featured Datwon Thomas of Vibe, and the legendary DJ/Producer Marley Marl as panelists.

Wes Jackson, founder of Brooklyn Bodega, said his goals for the discussion were to document Heavy D’s hip-hop journey, show the direct link from The Overweight Lover to the Notorious B.I.G., and ensure that Heavy D’s substantial contributions to and influence on hip hop as well as the entertainment industry are not forgotten.

As the moderator, Wes kept the discussion flowing by prompting Datwon and Marley to share their personal anecdotes about the Hevster.

Marley recalled meeting Heavy D while working on the “Uptown’s Kickin’ It” project with Andre Harrell at Uptown Records. He and Heavy D clicked from day one, and soon after, began working in the studio on material not directly related to the Uptown’s Kickin’ It project.  Marley, along with Heavy D, Teddy Riley and Eddie F., collaborated to produce Heavy D’s first hit single “Mr. Big Stuff” in 1987.

Datwon talked about how “Uptown’s Kickin’ It” influenced and made a big impression on him while growing up in Brooklyn. One image he remembers is that of Andre Harrell, a dude from our hood, being in charge and calling the shots in a business meeting with record executives in the song’s video. Datwon also shared some stories from Brett Wright, who worked at Uptown Records during the early years when Teddy Riley, Andre Harrell, Al B. Sure and Heavy D pioneered the New Jack Swing sound that was prevalent in R&B and hip hop.

Datwon also shared an anecdote about Heavy D. nearly missing a golden opportunity to meet Janet Jackson. According to Brett Wright, Janet Jackson invited Andre Harrell to a party and requested that he bring Heavy D. Heavy D wasn’t a party goer, so Andre Harrell had to twist his arm and insist that Hev go to the party. After meeting at the party, Heavy D and Janet Jackson eventually collaborated on her song “Alright” for her Rhythm Nation 1814 album. After hearing the finished product, Michael Jackson reached out to Heavy D to work on his song “Jam” for his Dangerous album.

As for how Heavy D links to the Notorious B.I.G., the connections are endless. Both were large-sized MCs who didn’t let their size compromise their swag, especially when charming the ladies. Both were important influences on Diddy. Heavy D played an instrumental part in Diddy’s life and career by mentoring him and helping him secure an internship at Uptown Records. B.I.G. helped lift Diddy’s Bad Boy label and status as a producer to the stratosphere by churning out hit, after hit, after hit.

It was Heavy D’s size, swag, dance moves, fun-loving charisma and up tempo rhymes that convinced Diddy that an MC doesn’t necessarily have to fit a certain mold.  Heavy D truly paved the way and gave Diddy the vision to believe an artist like B.I.G. could be successful in the hip hop game.

I heard it mentioned that Heavy D and B.I.G. had planned to record a collaborative album when they were both alive.  To have hip hop’s most well-known and talented big dudes on one album together would’ve been epic. To combine Heavy D’s sense of humor and fun-loving rhymes with B.I.G.’s street sensibility and gritty lyrics would have truly been a fascinating experiment in blending polar opposites.

Too bad we will never know what could have been.

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