Classic Material: The Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die [1994]

It’s no coincidence that the first two Classic albums chosen this week are from Brooklyn natives. The Notorious B.I.G. was one of the few rappers to have that IT factor that has us calling him top 5-10 in Hip-Hop history with only two albums released before his death. Pun intended, Christopher George Latore Wallace was too big to hold back. He was signed by the then unknown Sean Combs for his Bad Boy label which already had a promising rapper by the name of Craig Mack. Mack ended up propelling B.I.G.’s career by having him on the Flava in Ya ear remix which immediately made everyone notice Biggie.

He stood out in every way from anyone doing it at the time. He was a big guy, 6’3, 300lbs and he didn’t care (“…black and ugly as ever, however…..”), he had the voice that made you take note, and his delivery and storytelling was second to none in the game. Despite his own unflattering characterizations of who he was, he was a trendsetter. He had the toughest thugs out buying $100 Versace shirts and glasses, Coogi sweaters, and drinking whatever he was drinking. That presence translates well on wax as well with a debut album that featured somewhere around 40 samples ranging from Mtume and the Isley Brothers to the Ohio Players and The Honey Drippers, which single-handedly put NY back on the Hip Hop map and gave Puffy a jumpstart to the Bad Boy Empire.

This album simply gets better with each listen as “validated ” by the Source who initially gave the album 4.5 mics but reviewed it again later and gave it the revered 5mic rating it deserved. One of my favorite flows from the album comes the title track

“I drop lyrics off and on like a light switch / quick to grab the right bitch / and make her drive the Q….45–Glocks and tecks are expected when I wreck shit / respect is collected so check it / I got techniques drippin’ out my butt cheeks / sleep on my stomach so I don’t fuck up my sheets / huh / My shit is deep, deeper than my grave G / I’m ready to die and nobody can save me / fuck the world, fuck my moms and my girl / my life is played out like the jheri curl cause I’m ready to die.”

We missin’ you man. Thank you for blessing the music I love with a classic