It seems incredible that 24 years have passed since the New York rapper The Notorious BIG was murdered in a car on the streets of Los Angeles. Christopher Latore Wallace , his real name, started rapping at a very young age. As a teenager, while attending the same New York school as Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes , he would perform on the streets with small groups in his neighborhood in Brooklyn.
8. Notorious Thugs (Feat. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
Written by: Diddy, Stevie J, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone & The Notorious B.I.G. | Produced by: Stevie J & Diddy
We kick off the list with this poignant track featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, from the double album Life After Death , released 15 days after Biggie’s death. This track, sampled from CREAM by Wu-Tang Clan , has a very melancholy effect with the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony chorus ; but make no mistake, the lyrics are still sharp and violent.
7. Ten Crack Commandments
Written By: DJ Premier & The Notorious BIG | Produced by: DJ Premier
At number seven, we continue with an unforgettable theme from Biggie on Ten Crack Commandments , where the legendary rapper breaks down the inescapable rules of the drug game one by one, like a crack Moses. The complex rhyme schemes used by BIG give this street religion even more scope, all perfectly supported by Preemo’s intoxicating production, and in particular this sample countdown intro, delivered by Chuck D. Iconica.
6. Big Poppa
Written by: The Isley Brothers, The Notorious BIG & Chris Jasper | Produced by: Chucky Thompson & Diddy
Big Poppa is one of the biggest singles of Biggie’s career: not only did it go platinum, it spent several weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The single is from the Ready to Die album , and its slow tempo and its West Coast-style instrumentation makes it a perfect jam for a laid-back night with a hint of gangsta rap. Why is it on this list? Well, at a time when the war between the East Coast and the West Coast had not yet torn hip hop apart in depth, Biggie dropped these bars on an instrumental as inspired as it is infused with a musicality usually instilled by East Coast producers. West as Dr. Dre ; but here are Chucky Thompson and Puff Daddy.
5. Who Shot Ya?
Written by: Diddy, Nashiem Myrick & The Notorious BIG | Produced by: Diddy & Nashiem Myrick
Who Shot Ya? it’s a sadly foreboding theme and a harbinger of eternity for Biggie. Another big hit for the Brooklyn rapper, this track helped make his debut album legendary, and Biggie a rap legend, even in his lifetime. The theme is supported by a terrifyingly effective piano loop, with a fantasy of Biggie looking regally over his shoulder at West Coast rappers. Notably, the splitting of the obsolete word between two bars in the first verse has broken quite a few necks and given ideas to a whole generation of aspiring MCs.
4. Mo Money Mo Problems
Written by: Stevie J, Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards, Ma$e, Diddy & The Notorious BIG | Produced by: Ma$e & Diddy
We kick off the home stretch with this banger: Biggie spends much of the Life After Death album thinking about the dark consequences of his excesses, but takes a moment to turn that stress into joy with the help of Ma$e and Diddy in Mo Money Mo. problems . Although all participants adhere to the ethic of making money, the concept never overshadows their individuality.
3. Suicidal Thoughts
Written By: Lord Finesse & The Notorious BIG | Produced by: Lord Finesse
After a series of depressing images, Biggie closed the Ready To Die album with these cold, suicidal words. The opening sentence, When I die, fuck it I wanna go to hell/Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckkin’ tell , is the equivalent of starting a gangster movie with a homicide scene. Over a haunting Miles Davis sample , Biggie tells his mentor Diddy of his unhappy feelings and sets up what appears to be his purgatory session.
Written by: Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence, Randy Alpert, Diddy, Andy Armer & The Notorious B.I.G. | Produced by: Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrence, Diddy & Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie
In this track, the American rapper talks about his poor childhood in Brooklyn, where he lived in a one-room slum, his dreams of becoming a rapper, and his influences. He spices up this jam with an ultra-familiar pre-existing chorus from narrator Slick Rick , reworked in the style of Biggie, all sung by Pamela Long, to which she adds a sharp, incisive flow that Big Poppa has the secret to, and with this track took the recipe for success. Also, how to forget the video? It included a chase between a boat and helicopters and then motorcycles and a big hummer with Diddy and Biggie in a Mercedes convertible going… backwards.
Written by: Poke, James Mtume, Diddy & The Notorious BIG | Produced by: Poke & Diddy
And we come to number one, Juicy , which is the best Biggie Smalls song of all time and one of the best hip-hop songs of all time. It’s a rare moment of self-introspection where she sheds his bully persona and takes stock of his rise. Biggie died three years after this song was released, but like all true classics, he lives on through those who remember him. From the opening sentence to Bad Boy’s yellow and blue t-shirt, the details on this track are legendary. From the first notes of this instantly recognizable instrumental, the work of Trackmasters and Diddy and based on Mtume ‘s funk hit Juicy Fruit, young Biggie launches into a verse in the form of a tribute to those who inspired him, from Marley Marl to Funkmaster Flex.