- March 12, 2022
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BEFORE Christopher Wallace was the legendary Notorious B.I.G., he was "Chris Bigger" rap battling with Brooklyn's best in a barbershop.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of Biggie Smalls' death, his barber Charles "Guess" Minter exclusively told The Sun about his fondest memories of the legendary New York City rapper.
Minter, who styled Biggie's hair since he was 10, recalled how one day, a young rapper by the name of Mateo came into the shop claiming that he was the best around.
"I said, 'My man will eat you, so I called Big," Minter said during an interview at the Respect for Life barbershop across the street from Biggie's Brooklyn home.
"They battled for an hour, hour and a half and nobody won. It was a draw," the now-retired barber said. "It was like two heavyweights going at it."
Minter, better known in Brooklyn as "Guess," said there were 30 to 40 people inside the shop, and cars were lined up outside along Washington Avenue.
"I was hanging on every line, and I can honestly say no one won. But after the battle, they smoked together and became good friends," he said.
That was back in 1992 before Biggie was signed.
Minter said he tried to get him signed, but the person he introduced him to claimed he couldn't rap.
"I didn't roll with them but I heard in the shop that someone plugged him into Daddy-O and then Daddy-O plugged him into Puff and Puff knew it," Guess explained.
"The rest is history. Next thing I know he's giving me $500 for a haircut. He looked out for me."
He recalled one instance where Biggie came into the shop mad at Lil Kim, who had supposedly said something about Faith Evans.
Minter told The Sun how got in between them but acknowledged that "it was good" in the end.
He scrolled through his phone and showed The Sun pictures of Biggie's best friends, Ollie and Winnie, growing up and revealed another photo of Ollie and Big as teenagers.
"He was a rap machine," Minter said. "The difference between him and every other rapper was the way he enjoyed rhyming.
"Most rappers enjoy rapping but it was the way he enjoyed it. That's what made him different and unique."
Minter started to tell his next story saying: "This gonna sound crazy and nobody in the whole wide world is going to believe me."
In Biggie's song Unbelievable, he has a line that reads: "I got 357 ways to simmer saute."
"He got that from me," said Minter, laughing. "God knows it and everybody there that night knows it. They can vouch for me.
"He was on Park Slope coming down Sixth Avenue with the guys he was with, and I was on a 10-speed bike coming down Sterling Street. At that time I was always connected with a big gun, so I had a 357 on me.
"And Big was kind of fat, so he was always walking behind his crew. And one of his guys said something slick to me, but he didn't know I was g'd up.
"Before the bike hit the ground, I was off the bike with the gun in my hand and told the youngster, 'Tell me what we doing so we can get it over with because I got 357 ways to simmer saute.'
"And then Big stopped me from going any further and said he knew me and we were cool, but he got that line from me. Hand to god."
Twenty-five years after Wallace's still unsolved murder, his large stature looms even larger.
There are murals and paintings on nearly every corner – including two that flank the current barbershop.
On the right side of the shop, here's a shaded picture of Biggie in sunglasses, suit, tie, and hat and another of him as a baby – similar to his 1994 album "Ready to Die" – under the barbershop's window.
On the corner across the street, which was renamed "Christopher Notorious B.I.G. Wallace Way," is a mural of Biggie in a cap gown.
Another image similar to the 1994 album cover towers over Fulton Street baby above Key Foods, where he used to work as a teenager.
And up the road, a colorful image of Biggie rapping was painted on a sliding door of a pharmacy.
Controversies and conspiracies surround the rap icon's death.
Los Angeles police refused to answer any of The Sun's questions because "it's an active, open investigation."
When asked when an "active investigation" becomes a cold case, police declined to comment.
His death was tragic and still resonates with Minter and others who knew him.
Puff (now P. Diddy) and Jay-Z latched onto Biggie Smalls when he began to blow up.
“You have to kill greatness to make room for greatness," Minter said. "He knew he was leaving. If he was alive, we wouldn't be sitting here. Greatness wouldn't have happened.
"When he died though, I was heartbroken."
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