The Notorious B.I.G.
Chi Modu: "We wanted to show Biggie as the King of New York. So what better way than getting the twin towers in the background? Being a Jersey guy I know the view from over there, so I was like, Why don’t we do it at Liberty State Park? It’s perfect.
"Getting the permits from the park was pretty easy to do. But getting Big, you know, that was something else. I went to get Biggie the first time, and I saw Faith at the door. It wasn’t his original place with his mother. He and Faith had an apartment in Brooklyn. And you know, they met at my photo shoot.
"It was funny because it got rewritten in the movie Notorious. They made it a photo studio, but it was actually a Burger King that we converted to look like a McDonald’s for the Big/Mack promo—you know, the Craig Mack and Biggie when Bad Boy was just starting out. So that was where Biggie and Faith met, in a Burger King right near 42nd Street.
"But anyway, when I went to their place, Faith said Biggie was asleep. So I go to Biggie’s bedroom, and I’m shaking him. And he’s like “Oh Chi, come on—I’m tired. I’ve been on the road.” So I said, “All right. I’ll postpone it.” We had a location vehicle outside and everything, but I just went by the feel. I was like, you know what? Not a good day.
"Then one other time he was out of town. So finally by the third take, we were able to do it. This was long after he did that song where he says “time to get paid, blow up like the world trade.” By this time Pac was dead. It was really sort of a dark period in hip-hop.
"People were still making music but they didn’t know how to feel. And then the era got finally capped with Biggie’s death. Now both Biggie and the Towers are gone, so it really captures a moment in time.
"But after all that, they went with an alternate picture for the Source cover when I was out of the office. They did this Photoshopped thing with him standing next to the towers. So they had this photograph—and then they went that route. It’s just hilarious."