Remembering Big Tigger, Who Freestyled Alongside Your Favorite Rappers on BET
We look back at the majesty that was Big Tigger dropping hot freestyles inside The Basement.
If you’ve ever rushed home for 4 o’clock between 1999-2005 to watch BET’s Rap City: The Basement, then you remember the man known as Big Tigger. Born Darian Morgan, he acted as the longest-serving host of one of the best hip-hop shows ever created, due to in no small part to his amiability and his dedication to asking guests the hard questions. Before YouTube made it so you could peer inside the personal lives of your favourite artists through a simple click through to their vlog, Rap City was how you’d find out more about the musicians that you only heard on the radio or downloaded through Kazaa. But it wasn’t just Big Tigger’s interview style or his interactions with big name guests that made him such a joy to watch. Halfway through every episode of Rap City, the guests and Big Tigger would travel into the booth to record a freestyle. Looking back at these now, it’s clear that most of the artists were simply rapping a verse that was unreleased at the time, but these sessions always included Big Tigger rapping a verse that was clearly improvised.
For those of you who missed out on the rap-game Ryan Seacrest, not only were you unable to witness the times he’d try to sneak in a controversial question during an innocuous game of billiards with an artist, but you also didn’t get to hear his freestyles. These freestyles were life-changing because not only did you get to hear established artists have fun over the hot industry beat du jour, but you also got Big Tigger spitting off-the-top freestyles that often resulted in HOT MAGMA BARS BEING DROPPED WITHOUT WARNING. Big Tigger's rap aptitude actually resulted in him getting two placements on commercial albums in 2003, once on Ginuwine's album, The Senior, and again on R.Kelly's Chocolate Factory.
Being the gracious host he was, Big Tigger always made sure to inject the album title of the artist who was in the booth, to varying degrees of success. Sometimes it resulted in a flubbed verse or a dropped bar, but other times, when it worked, it was an act that bordered on magical. To help educate those of you who may have been too busy to make it home in time to see Big Tigger and friends rap, we’ve compiled some of the most entertaining verses ever dropped by the Rap City host. To turn this into a drinking game, take a shot every time Tigger mentions that his freestyle is “off the top”.
Snoop Dogg & Talib Kweli
As unlikely of a pairing as you’ll ever see, Snoop Dogg got into the booth with Talib Kweli to trade bars over the “Wanksta” beat. This was back when East vs. West was in its twilight stages of being the hot topic in rap, so having these two share a booth was a semi-notable achievement.
Big Tigger Raps At: 2:43
Best Big Tigger Line: “I’mma go upstairs and get me something to eat / and DJ Jam-e was in there providing the beat”
Buju Banton & Elephant Man
The definition of “going 0 to 100, real quick,” dancehall stars Buju Banton and Elephant Man flank Tigger pon both sides to get the energy revved up before anyone says a single intelligible word.
Big Tigger Raps At: 0:23
Best Big Tigger Line: “Big Tigger known to lay low, maybe with your wife / go pick up Buju’s new album called Friends For Life”
Before he was Shad Moss (did you know Bow Wow is Shad Moss now?) and coming right off a fresh haircut, Bow Wow is here in all of his prepubescent glory, talking shit about every Hollywood star imaginable. He goes from bragging about hooking up with Janet Jackson and Jennifer Aniston, to talking shit about J.Lo within the span of three bars. This is the best thing Bow Wow has ever done on BET, and I’m very well aware that he is currently hosting 106 & Park.
Big Tigger Raps At: 0:13, then again at 1:53
Best Big Tigger Line: “It’s going down, I swear this off the top / but damn I swear that, uh, that girl is hot”
Rapping over Ashanti’s “Happy,” 50 Cent and his crooked teeth take a minute to flirt and take veiled shots at Murder Inc. before he even thinks to start rapping. Every member of G-Unit takes a turn on the mic, except for Tony Yayo, who was incarcerated at the time.
Big Tigger Raps At: 3:16
Best Big Tigger Line: “Big Tigger in the basement on BET / watch the video, stop watching me”
This is Sean Paul freestyling over “Lose Yourself” and if you need any other reason to think this video is great, you don’t love music.
Big Tigger Raps At: 2:36
Best Big Tigger Line: “Whoo Kid Big Tigg and Sean Paul / lick off a shot ya not batty man at all”
Ludacris used to be so fucking good at rapping. Then he cut his hair and became the most generic Atlanta rapper of all time. It’s a modern day Samson story, except Ludacris went on to become a Hollywood actor instead of getting hacked into bits by a sword.
Big Tigger Raps At: 1:24 FOR LIKE A FULL MINUTE
Best Big Tigger Line: “There was one part of that freestyle that I definitely wasn’t feeling / damn that ten grand, they gotta bring ten million”