Christopher George Latore Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls a.k.a. the Notorious BIG, was one of the first to convince me of the value of intelligence gathering in his Information Access Superiority anthem, Warning. Did you think this song was just about shooting haters after your paper? Let's take a closer look at Biggie's narrative.
It starts with him recieving a page at 5:46 in the morning (crack of dawnin') from Pop from the barbershop, who seems to be Biggie's human intelligence specialist. He states that "he was in the gamblin spot and heard the intricate plot/ some people wanna stick you like fly paper neighbour."
The scheme begins to unfold. Pop heard from "them kidz from the hill up in Brownsville /that you rolled dice wit/ smoked the blunts and got nice wit," which I assume is the street version of drinking tea with village elders in the Afghan mountains. They "school" Pop on some former acquaintances of Biggie who, through their own intelligence networks, discovered that he was "blowin' up like nitro" and now want to "stick [Biggie] for his papers."
Thanks to the warning, the tables are turned. "There's gonna be alot of slow singin'/ and flower bringin'/ if [his] burglar alarm starts ringin'." As Biggie Smalls reminds us, "Watcha think all the guns was for?" Not only does he have "rottweilers by the door" but he makes sure to "feed them gunpowder/ so they can devour the criminals." See, Biggie is a lot like out military- better armed and better trained than his criminal adversaries, but he needs reliable intelligence so that he "won't slip" and get "the calico with the black talons loaded in the clip." The song ends with the approach of the would-be burglars and what sounds like harsh street justice.
Here's how I see this song. The Notorious BIG knows a thing or two about Human Network Operations. He has Pop brilliantly imbedded in a barber shop where he can overhear and report relevant conversations, but his network doesn't stop there. Pop, in turn, has informants at "the hill up in Brownsville" who then, presumably over a dice game, discover the plot to rob Big. If we could penetrate criminal and terrorist networks like that, we would already have found Osama. Now Biggie has acquired Information Access Superiority. He has environmental information access because he knows his crib better than anyone, knows about the curiously malnourished rottweilers, his impressive arsenal, etc. He also has access relative to his enemy as he now knows more about them than they do about him, and, most importantly, he has undiscovered information access. This means he has information that his adversaries do not know he possesses, and still expect their heist to be a surprise. They are unprepared for such stiff opposition and the artist keenly exploits this information asymmetry: "he had a gun he should've packed it." Well played, Mr. Smalls.
By Alex Olesker