“I love it when you call me big poppa, throw your hands in the air, if you’re a true player.” And who can forget, “I see some ladies tonight who should be havin’ my baby,….baby”. It’s hard not to pick Biggie’s first single, it’s so iconic, a must-have jam for any party. Taking a seductive Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets” sample, young Christopher Wallace set his influential rap career in motion with this smash. “Juicy” and “Warning” were also commercial tracks on an otherwise hardcore street album.
1997 “I LOVE THE DOUGH” with Jay-Z from LIFE AFTER DEATH
Source Magazine named Biggie, “The King Of New York”. At the same time, Tupac was joining Death Row Records in California. Two musical comrades, two rap heroes, were suddenly rivals on the charts and at music award shows. In a famous Vibe Magazine article, Tupac said (after being critically shot) that he believed Chris and Sean Combs had knowledge prior to the shooting. The East Coast/West Coast rivalry was in full swing. As we know things escalated and within two years, both Tupac and Biggy were found shot dead in very streets they so eloquently wrote about. Life After Death is loaded with classics. “Miss U”, “Playa Hater”, “Sky Is The Limit”, “Mo Money, Mo Problems”, “Hypnotize” with Lil Kim, and the prophetic “You’re Nobody Until Someone Kills You”. I’ve always loved his collaboration with a young Jay-Z and Angela Winbush on “I Love The Dough”.
1999 “NOTORIOUS B.I.G.” from BORN AGAIN
The posthumous CD debuted at #1 and sadly marked the end of Christopher’s three short years in the rap game. The CD was loaded with guest stars like Eminem, Ice Cube, Nas, and Lil Kim, who finished some of Biggie’s unfinished rhymes. Many of the songs stole verses from other Biggie songs, mixtapes, and demo versions. Chris had no part in the final CD versions but the producers did a good job keeping the songs faithful to Biggie’s style. The gem from the CD is “Notorious B.I.G.” featuring his pal, Diddy, and his ex, Lil Kim. Biggie’s verses came from a freestyle ironicly over some Death Row Records beats. Plus you’ve got to give Biggie credit for using a prominent Duran Duran sample!
2005 “HOLD YOUR HEAD” with BOB MARLEY from DUETS
Sadly, the last release from Biggie was “Duets”. The CD got poor reviews, it felt like “product”, cashing in on his death. The guest rappers were not on Chris’ level at this point in their career including Akon, Nelly, T.I., Lil Wayne, and The Game. Method Man who appeared on his debut “Ready To Die” confirmed this when he said, “Biggie wouldn’t have recorded with these rappers”. “Hold Your Head” with Bob Marley is a creative dual posthumous pairing with intense lyrics of fear of death by gunshots, it’s one of the top tracks on an overall weak CD.
DAILY MUSIC TRIVIA: What Oscar nominated actress played Biggie’s mom in Notorious? Yesterday: Runaway
2005 “RUNNIN (DYIN’ TO LIVE)” from TUPAC: RESURRECTION
Not a Notorious BIG CD, but Eminem produced this track that combined vocals from Tupac Shakur and Biggie including Chris discussing 2Pac’s death on a radio show. The song’s hook shared the dual sentiment of many fans, “why am I trying to live when I’m living to die.”
BONUS: 1996 “YOU CAN’T STOP THE REIGN” from SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
Who’d have guessed one of the better tracks on Biggie’s discography would be a track with Shaq! Yes, Shaq’s rap career had one shining moment, an epic track that no one can deny. Biggie adds the hook to “You Can’t Stop The Reign” and Shaq is on point with his rap. Check out this rare find video: