Hip Hop

Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die (Album Review)

In 1994, the top MC title was still up for grabs: Tupac was up and coming, Jay was trying to make his emergence in to the game, and Nas made a classic album that put him in the hunt; then there was Biggie…Biggie was the one MC that was just as special as the others, with a little more umph to his style. Biggie was wild, he was unapologetic, and he was violent! It was mafioso rap, with the swag of a pretty boy.

Biggie proudly represented where he was from in Brooklyn, and with Ready to Die, he ended up releasing a soundtrack for his city. Today is 2016, Biggies album still has a resounding impact in New York City, but for someone not born during that era (cough cough millenials), or not a music enthusiast like me (cough cough anyone),  this post will remind you just how dominant this album was in the 90’s.


TOP 5


5. SUICIDAL THOUGHTS (5/5)

In a guilty, probably sickening way, I think this song is EXCELLENT! I’ve heard this song over 30 times in a month span, and each time I hear it from someone else’s perspective:

Big’s Perspective:
The first perspective is Biggies, in which he is justifying why he wants to kill himself. What makes it so intriguing is that even though the topic is about suicide, he has decided to rap in a relaxed/chill manner. Keep in mind, THROUGHOUT the album Big has shown he can yell on a track like the best of them, so it may seem odd that he doesn’t on this song. I actually think this aspect is very fitting, as it seems he’s convinced that he wants to kill himself, and people who are usually at peace with their decision have no reason to be aggravated.
This is probably the most vivid perspective of someone thinking about committing suicide that I’ve ever heard or seen.

Puff Daddy:

Puff Daddy is playing the friend that Big is ranting to on the phone. At first he is calm, and is dismissing Big’s thoughts, but as Big continues talking, Puff becomes more and more worried. This perspective is straightforward.
Everyone else:
You then have the perspective of the baby mama, his mom, his record label, his friends, the food he left in the fridge that he wouldn’t be able to eat if he shot himself….So on and so on.
It’s a cinematic, and well-written song that deserves an Oscar nomination (Wink wink Assholes).

4. THINGS DONE CHANGED (5/5)

Back in the days things were ‘different’ is the topic of this song, which essentially he is referring to the 80’s being more gentle than the 90’s: 90’s was about murder, drugs, and horrible names like Shenqua, and on this song, Biggie is discussing that evolve. 
Ironically, the song features a sample reminiscent to those of the late 80’s and early 90’s. On the verses, Big is specific in what he sees as different, and is visibly animated about it. 
What I personally love about this song is its cinematic feel: It feels like the closing of an epic Black drama film, or better yet, it feels like the music they play to show highlights of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie where they each got a chance at kicking the shredders ass!  
3. BIG POPPA (5/5)

After killing, thinking about death, thinking about suicide, getting his johnson devoured, and wrapping an umbilical cord around his neck when he was a baby; It’s finally time to get sexy!

The beat samples “Between the Sheets” by the Isley Brothers, and almost sounds identical. But lets all be honest (In my Somalian from Captain Phillips movie voice) it’s Bigs beat now!

 The beat is smooth, sensual, and flat out sexy! Then you hear this fat person talking about what he has, and how he can serenade ladies (If you’re like me, you’re like huh?). But Biggie is such a good rapper, you can look past his obese stature and burger munching voice, and just convince yourself that homeboy is smooth! You know how you hear or see something so ridiculous that you think to yourself hmmmmm it might be good though? That’s the type of mind games that’s happening here.
The song is almost like a joke. A mockery of a real love song. However, his lyrics and swagger is so good, it turns out to be a classic. It might be the best accidental love song I’ve ever heard in my life!
2.  EVERDAY STRUGGLE (5/5)

This beat is tough! Doesn’t it take you on a rollercoaster? First it’s like elevator music that is soothing to the ears, and then the beat does a “BAM BAM BAM”, and it becomes an untamed animal that’s frustrated that it can’t have you as its lovely dinner.

Biggie gets straight to it on his verses; his aim is to make you feel his struggle. You take a journey into what he goes through on a usual day, and it’s so vivid! It Reminds me of a baby daddy on Maury trying to explain why he’s not the baby’s father.

How many rappers let alone people can make a song in which they’re are openly admitting to thinking about suicide and how death is knocking on the front door? It’s so real that it is rather disturbing. If I was one of his homies in the studio during this recording, I’ll tell him: “YO this song is hot bro!” Then in the most gangsterous way ask him if he was tryna go to church on Sunday.

1. JUICY (5/5)

Obviously Juicy is a great song, but has anyone ever explained why it’s great? 

First off, the song starts off beautifully by saying “F–k all you hoes!” (How elegant and perplexing!) It then proceeds with him saying F everyone blocking him from making money! Surprisingly, the list is not that long! You know how long my list of “F you’s” would’ve been if I was a rapper? “F my neighbors!, F the landlord!, F cox cable!, F the person that told me I shouldn’t say F everyone!, F my girl!, then F myself for being a rude ass to my girl! F the Oscars committee….On and On, F and F! 

What I really like about this song is his tone: He’s angry, but not that angry…. He’s reminiscing, but grudging at the same time… It just seems so real! His verses play sorta like an award speech. 

Obviously the woman on the chorus is amazing, but what is overlooked by many is Puff Daddy playing the little homie in the background saying “it’s all good” over and over again. It sounds like that one homie that you have that has that 75 cents you need to buy the rest of that 2 dollar soda you want: “It’s all good homie, next time you got 2 dollars just pay me back”.

Big starts his verse by saying “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke man I couldn’t picture this!” Doesn’t it just sound like struggling video game systems? Try substituting the video game systems of now into this scenario…. “Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with Blu Ray DVD capability-sis, when I was dead broke I couldn’t picture this” I would say b—h you don’t need all that!


SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN

Very Hot: Juicy, Things Done Changed, Everyday Struggle, Gimmie The Loot, The What, Ready To Die, Respect, Warning.

Hot: One More Chance, Unbelievable, Me & My Bitch,

Meh: Friend Of Mine

Hot Ass: NONE


OVERALL RATING (9.8/10)

 This album is excellent! Between all the albums that we consider classic in hip hop, this one might be the most animated/versatile: It is fun, sad, smooth, joyful, and hard. It’s also disturbing in a way that I never thought an album could be disturbing…. (Yes Eminem is disturbing, but that’s like stupid rapist disturbing, this is more of a “I feel for what he went through that made him disturbing” type of disturbing.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…..This album has the best production I’ve ever heard! Puff Daddy does not get enough credit for helping orchestrate such a masterful sound. Puff and his crew really outdid themselves on this album if you ask me. It’s up to someone to tell me the others that helped accomplish this because they deserve up-most credit too!
As for Big, his lyrics are unmatched! He doesn’t use punchlines to sound cool, he uses it to really let the listener understand what he’s trying to say. It’s all authentic from his front, which is why we love it.

Cheers to a great album everyone!

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