Voletta Wallace Looks Forward And Back

Ms. Voletta Wallace is a martyr to the casualties of hip-hop. No mother raises a child to be slain over greed, pride, and envy. Ms. Wallace has endured that cruelest of fates, and still is willing to share. Almost six years to the day after he son was gunned down on the lawless streets of […]

Ms. Voletta Wallace is a martyr to the casualties

of hip-hop. No mother raises a child to be slain over greed, pride, and envy.

Ms. Wallace has endured that cruelest of fates, and still is willing to share.

Almost six years to the day after he son was

gunned down on the lawless streets of Los Angeles, Ms. Wallace speaks. Her tone

is a blend of joy and agony. With a soft-spoken nature, one can hear reflections

of our favorite rapper in his mother: She has the same confidence, the blunt

approach, and commands the same respect.

In celebration of her son’s life and success,

Ms. Wallace and the Christopher Wallace Foundation are planning the BIG Night

Out event in Atlanta this week. After the storm, comes the calm. While we reminisce

over a wide spectrum of topics and events concerning Big, you can’t help

but sense of what’s missing.

AllHipHop.com: What are doing with your time

these days?

Voletta Wallace: Well, these [days], I spend

with my grandkids. I take care of the Christopher Wallace estate. I take care

of the Christopher Wallace Foundation. I do a lot of gardening. I’m working

on a couple of children’s’ books, and I’m working on my own book.

So I’m extremely busy.

AHH: You were a teacher, have you always wanted

to do children’s books?

VW: I started writing I would say about seven

years ago. I never took it seriously. But after Christopher died, I decided

that I since I had nothing more to do than weep, and over the years I’ve

read a few Caldecott Awards, I would say to myself, “I can do it too.”

I focused kids books around happiness, around love, around friendship. I just

started writing. Last year I contacted a few publishers and so far someone is

looking at my book and they said it’s very very good.

AHH: As a mother, what moment in your son’s

life made you the proudest?

VW: The moment that made me the proudest was

when his album sold half a million copies. And I saw the smile in his face,

and I [knew] it was something that he loved, something that he worked hard at,

something that he had accomplished without my help. And that made me the proudest.

AHH: In sports, they used to say there was a

trend. Great fathers produced great athletes. I think hip-hop is maternal. Every

well-respected hip-hop artist seems to have an immensely strong relationship

with his mother. As one of the driving images to that philosophy, how do you

feel on this idea to the role of the modern poet?

VW: Well as far as my son is concerned, I taught

my son to love, to care, respect, to put his heart into whatever he did and

do it with great honesty. And as a mother, that’s how I feel. I don’t

know if it’s a contribution to him, or if it’s a contribution to me,

but every word from that pen that my son put down, I am proud of his work. I

don’t care if he defamed women, defamed an idea or a culture, you know,

the fact that half a million people bought his album made me proud. That makes

me very very proud.

AHH: Let’s talk about the Christopher Wallace

foundation? From what I’ve read, it’s a great charity with reachable,

and very impacting goals. How do you incorporate your son’s vision into

the giving?

VW: Well, he was a giver. He gave his art, he

gave of his time. And that’s what the foundation is all about. They’re

thinking big! The acronym for BIG is ‘Books Instead of Guns’. Because

my son shared a love for life in his heart, I would like to share something

with all youths of tomorrow. To give some love, to share a book. Yes, reading

is art. Knowledge is a form of art. If I can get one book into a child’s

hands, to me, the foundation has accomplished what I wanted to accomplish: sharing.

And it’s sharing and it’s love and it’s art.

AHH: There’s a lot of giving in Atlanta

too, and I know you have the BIG night out this weekend. Why did you take the

event outside of New York?

VW: Well out of New York City, all over the country.

This year we’re not focusing on education, we’re focusing on these

mothers. Their children [are gone], they lost a lot! In height of all that,

these mothers were never acknowledged, not of all of them, nobody acknowledged

their loss. They have given a lot to the hip-hop community. They have given

a lot to the world. They have given their sons and their daughters. And their

daughters and their sons aren’t here. It’s a foundation made of appreciating

them for their children and for what their children have contributed to society

and the world.

AHH: Our site has a lot of dedicated readers

and activists. Where can supporters go to make a contribution to the foundation?

VW: If you wish to make a contribution to the

foundation, all you have to do is make it to the: Christopher Wallace Foundation

PO Box 834

Brooklyn, NY 11238

AHH: As an MC, my mom used to find my poetry….and

I’d be furious. How did Big approach his lyrics with you?

VW: (Laughing) Well, I’ve read a couple

of his things and I listened to certain things, certain halfway rhymes, and

I know the bleep bleeps were profanity. When I asked him about it, he said,

“Mom, you know you’re not supposed to be listening to that. My music

is not for anyone over thirty five.” So, I tried to stay away from it.

AHH: Was there a specific song or lyric that

BIG really reflected a lot of you in him, or you could hear your own voice in

the track?

VW: It might be everything. So far, I don’t

know all of my son’s songs. But it’s what he said, but how he said

it. And the way it was penned I believe. All of his songs. The first one was

“Juicy”, and the second was “Big Poppa”, the next one was

“One More Chance”, and we cannot forget “Hypnotize”. When

you think of the words, those are not words that I would write, a recitation

that I would recite, or poetry that I would pen, but it was his heart and it

was beautifully, beautifully, orchestrated in pen.

AHH: As a woman of West Indian decent…you

were the generation that carried hip-hop to US and to the streets. My mother

was very understanding of my love for hip-hop…did you help introduce Chris

to the culture at all….were you accepting of it?

VW: I had to, yes. I couldn’t force him

to become a doctor. I couldn’t force him to become a teacher. I couldn’t

force him to become a dentist. So he said that’s what he wanted, and that

would make him happy. It would make him a good public figure in our community,

and that’s what I wanted for my son. I wanted him to be happy, I wanted

him to have a decent life, and that’s what he chose, and I respected him

for it, and I gave him my [support].

AHH: Your son is probably the most respected

figure in hip-hop history. Still in terms of heritage, what do people misunderstand

about him?

VW: Of course, people saw my son’s figure.

People hear the profanity in my son’s music. And right away they think

he’s an abuser of women. They thought whatever his lyrics were, he defamed

women, defamed the Black culture. Not everybody likes hip hop music. We have

to be realistic about it, not everybody likes rap. To me, I would say sixty

percent of the population, maybe seventy. They hear a rapper and whatever they’re

saying and they turn their nose up. They don’t know the meaning of what

they’re saying. Many of these rappers, whatever they’re saying, stems

not only from their culture, but their neighborhood, their lifestyle, their

community. And that’s what they see, that’s they’re being around,

that’s what they talked about. And I have to respect it. I might not like

it, but I have to respect it.

AHH: A couple weeks ago Lil Kim made some shocking

allegations of beating that really angered the community. Do you have any comment

on that?

VW: No, I don’t.

AHH: One of the most pivotal moments of closure

to us all was seeing you and Afeni Shakur at the Grammy’s five years ago.

Do you stay in touch with her?

VW: Yes. The last time I spoke to her was about

six months ago. We’re not in touch every month, but we do keep in touch.

I know what’s going on with her, and I’m sure she knows what’s

going on with me.

AHH: Is it a friendship, support system…?

VW: It’s a support system, it’s not

a friendship. I guess we are friends at heart because we are parents. But we

have a wonderful support system.

AHH: Your son’s contribution to hip hop

culture was awe-inspiring. People today are re-using his lyrics. As a mother….do

you appreciate that, or do you wish that they’d just let the original art

speak for itself?

VW: No, I don’t mind them sampling his lyrics

because Christopher sampled others’. But I think it’s a sharing, to

me, that’s what hip-hop should all be about. I think that’s what friendship

[and love] should all be about [too]. Yes, we’re getting paid for it. I

do not resent [it]. All I ask them to do is not sample it and then tell me after

(laughing). They need to ask me, and then sample it.

AHH: A well known rapper [Ghostface Killah] who

wasn’t always close with your son while living, stepped up and said people

need to pay you for using his legacy. Are people being pretty fair?

VW: Uh, they’re not being fair! They’re honestly not being fair. But

that’s what the lawyers are for. We’re fighting some, and then some

are being very honest about it and fair about it. Some of them are not being

very fair. Some of them use it and when I [hear] it, I have to investigate it,

and that’s when they come clean.

AHH: Your son had a lot of friends, more than

I can ever imagine. Do they still keep in touch with you?

VW: I’m a very very private person. My son’s

friends were and are not my friends, we’re simply associates. And once

in a while if I see them, we will hug, and say hello. But those are young kids

and business is business, friendship is friendship. I’m an old woman, my

friends are my old friends.

AHH: I haven’t seen the DVD. I don’t

really want to right now. I have watched the VH1 specials…and I’ll

tell you that it hurts to see you agonizingly plea for justice. After all the

books, the investigations, etc. are you shocked to see that man, and I won’t

say his name out of respect for your sons legacy…are you surprised to see

that he can walk around, and live a free life?

VW: I am excrutiatingly shocked that they’re

out there. But I know that I have time and justice will be served.

AHH: There were rumors of you putting out some

early BIG material. Is this true?

VW: Yes, it’s true. [It will be available]

in the Summer.

To learn more about the Christopher Wallace Foundation,

go to http://www.cwmfonline.org/