How a Source Magazine Article Inspired The Notorious BIG’s “Ten Commandments of Crack”


The author of the article eventually got credit for writing songs.

March 9 is the anniversary of the death of The Notorious BIG, who was shot and killed in 1997 in one of hip-hop’s most infamous moments. Birthdays often lead to discussions about an artist’s legacy, and today is no different. While praising a list of Biggie’s best songs, the founding editor of Source Jonathan Shecter and former music publisher of Source Riggs Morales revealed some knowledge about the popular Biggie Life after death cut, “Ten commandments of crack.”

According to Shecter and Morales, the concept of the song is taken from an article by Source about the crack era titled “On The Rocks: From 1984 to 1994, Ten Years of Crack”, which led to a lawsuit that ended in getting credit for the author.

The article has been attributed to a writer with the initials KT. Spotify metadata on “Ten Crack Commandments” confirms that the song is written by C. Wallace (the first name of Biggie), Chris Martin (the first name of DJ Premier, who produced the song) and Khary Turner.

Just like in the song, the article offered tips on how to survive the crack game. Although he is not online, BlackBookMag managed to transcribe the rules of the article, which clearly matches the lyrics of the song:

  1. Never let anyone know how much money you have
  2. Never let anyone know what your next move will be.
  3. Don’t trust anyone.
  4. Never use what you sell.
  5. Never give credit.
  6. Never sell outside of your own home.
  7. Keep family and business separate.
  8. Never pack your hiding place on your person
  9. If you are not arrested, never be seen contacting the police.
  10. Large GCGC shipment, serious sequestration.

On the song, Biggie raps through the same rules, in the same order, but with a lot more lyrical sparkle. Here are just two of the rules he raps on:

Rule number Uno: never let anyone know
How much dough you hold because you know
The jealousy of the cheddar breed ‘specially
If this man is fucked up, pretend you’re stuck
Number 2: never let them know your next move
Don’t you know that the Bad Boys operate in silence and violence?
Take it from your highness
I made crazy clips on these cats for their bricks and chips

The trial enters Source writer and Biggie wasn’t the only song-inspired lawsuit. Chuck D, who DJ Premier sampled on behalf of “one, two, three,” also sued Bad Boy for the song, though he later called the trial “stupid.” Chuck’s count has found a second life in recent years, with Drake using it for his signature “six!” label.

Read all the lyrics to The Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments” on Genius now.

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