The Notorious B.I.G – Ready To Die

Flashback Review!

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Courtesy of BIGGIE

The Notorious B.I.G.

As one of the top-grossing albums in 1994, the Notorious B.I.G’s “Ready to Die” is one of the best throwback albums from the east-coast-west-coast rap rivalry era, with it’s hard, heavy beat and retro sound.

The album came out on September 3, 1994, as The Notorious B.I.G (Biggie) first album. It features Sean “Puffy” Combs (a.k.a, P. Diddy), Easy Mo Bee, Chucky Thompson, Snoop Dogg (a.k.a, Snoop Lion), DJ Premier, and Lord Finesse. “Warning,” “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” and “One More Chance” all have been on the top 100 of the Billboard. ”Big Poppa” was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1996 Grammy Awards. This was his only full commercial album to come out before he died in 1997. Days after the release of this album, B.I.G (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls) was murdered in a drive-by shootout, although he had already recorded his second album “Life After Death.”

Pullquote Photo

I’d never amount to nothin’, to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughter.”

— Biggie Smalls

The sound is a heavy bass that you could definitely identify as 90’s hip-hop. The heavy beat was part of Biggie’s legendary sound, leading the east coast in the rap scene rivalry. The way he used musical intensity throughout the album emphasizes the influence of his backstory on his life and rapping career. Biggie’s iconic technique of musical sound to intensify songs is used today with rappers such as Beyonce, The Weeknd, and Eminem.

In the song “Juicy,” he communicates his experiences of going to jail, selling drugs, and thievery. He uses the album to talk to the people who doubted him during this period of his life rapping,  “I’d never amount to nothin’, to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughter.” The weighty lyrics are definitely something that I look for in hip-hop music and it still reaches the fun and upbeat tone of today’s music scene.

Death was a prominent theme in this album and his next album “Ready to Die”  which turned out to be a premonition considering that he was murdered three years later. “Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete. Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets” which was in the song “Who shot ya?” addresses the violence of the gang fueled East Coast-West Coast rivalry, lead by Biggie and Tupac. The prominence of gangs, death, and violence in his music shows the atmosphere of the industry at the time.

This album showed the turbulence in Biggie’s life and the nature of the industry. Biggie is still  idolized in modern rap music, and his intensity with both sound and lyrics is still a legend. I definitely loved listening to the entirety of this album.

The album can be purchased on  iTunes for $1.29 a song or $13.99 for the entire album. It is also available on Spotify and YouTube.

Overall, I give this album a 5 out of 5.