On March 9, 2021, marked 24 years since The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles in a drive-by Shooting, ending one of the most historic runs in not only rap but the entire music industry.
Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G., was born on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York. B.I.G. would fall in love with Hip-Hop at a young age and start rapping on his corner in Brooklyn. B.I.G. raps were based on things that he did in the streets, which would threaten to rob B.I.G. of his true potential, which was rhyming. It was D.J.s like Mister C.E.E. and 50 Grand who would first see potential in B.I.G. and knew that he was something special. B.I.G. would catch the interest of Sean “Puffy” Combs, who took B.I.G. under his wing and made him the top artist on Badboy records.
On the Debut album of The Notorious B.I.G., he was able to put together a masterpiece of an album called “Ready to Die.” This was an important album because it reestablished East Coast Hip-Hop dominance, creating chart-topping success with hit singles like “Juicy,” “Warning,” and “Big Poppa.” The album also provided hardcore rap fans with street cuts like “Who Shot Ya” and “Gimme The Loot.
We can only wonder what B.I.G. would have become because he was already on the path to becoming a huge A&R because of the success of Junior M.A.F.I.A., who released their platinum-selling album conspiracy one year after B.I.G. released his debut. By the time it was time for B.I.G. to release his sophomore album, he was already hailed as being the undisputed King of New York. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that if B.I.G. would have been alive to see the success of “Life After Death,” it would have taken him to another level.
B.I.G. being killed is a tragedy that still haunts Hip-Hop decades later because the murderer was never caught and of the fact that B.I.G. was only 24; we didn’t even get to see him in his prime years. Even though he isn’t here in physical form, B.I.G.’s spirit lives through his music and his influence on the culture.
To celebrate the life of Notorious B.I.G., take a look at the ten greatest Notorious B.I.G. songs from the hip-hop icon’s career.
10 greatest Notorious B.I.G.’s songs
10. “Suicidal Thoughts” (Ready To Die,1994)
What Puffy and B.I.G. were able to do on the closing track of the legendary rapper debut album is still to this day mind-blowing. The track was like watching an episode of the original Twilight Zone with each bar B.I.G. story gets darker and sadder by the moment. This was Hip-Hop storytelling at its best, with the perfect beat and lyrics to match.
9. “The What” (Ready To Die,1994)
“The What” is a Hip-Hop fan dream track because it featured two of the hardest rappers ever to touch the mic battling it out on a track. Method Man was in peak form here, having to come off of his legendary classic debut with Wu-Tang in 1993. Both rappers came with witty punchlines and bars after bars. There was a reason why this was the only collaborative track on Ready To Die, and the reason was no other rapper could have matched this type of energy B.I.G., and Meth gave on this track.
8. “Juicy” (Ready To Die, 1994)
It would be impossible to make a B.I.G. list and not put Juicy on there; this is one of the greatest Hip-Hop songs ever created. This song is a self-introspective track that shows B.I.G. pull back the Mafia boss persona and be thankful for his rise in the music industry. B.I.G. died three years after releasing this song, but it would go down as one of the essential pieces in the Biggie Smalls story.
7. “You’re Nobody (Till Somebody Kills You) ( Life After Death,1997)
This was the closing track to B.I.G final album, which is crazy when you think about it. The theme of death was all over B.I.G debut and sophomore album. The title of the song is a play on a popular song by the same name that was recorded by legendary musicians such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
6. “Warning” (Ready to Die, 1994)
When it comes to Rap debut albums, most new rappers want to get huge features to help their album sale. When it came to B.I.G.’s debut, he was a true rapper and had a lot to get off his head to the point where B.I.G. kind of featured himself on a track where he was having a conversation with a friend about a hit on B.I.G. and how it could be prevented.
This track was a standout track on the classic debut album because it pointed out how B.I.G. could take real-life situations and turn them into songs as if you were having a conversation with a friend over the phone.
5. “Get Money” (Junior M.A.F.I.A., Conspiracy,1995)
Junior M.A.F.I.A was made up of close friends B.I.G. grew up with that he wanted to put on. The album would be a huge success having radio hits such as “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money.” This is a legendary song because it was the first time we got to see B.I.G. and Lil Kim go toe-to-toe on a track.
This was like a breakthrough song for Kim because it made people look at her as the next huge rapper. There have many questions rather or not B.I.G. use to write Kim’s lyrics that has never been proven, but what we can is how genius it was for B.I.G. to bring a female emcee into the picture.
4. “BIG POPPA” ( Ready to Die,1994)
We’ve all heard the stories of how B.I.G. just wanted his debut to be filled with street tracks, but puff was the one who explained to B.I.G. that he needed tracks for the ladies because that meant getting radio play. B.I.G. was able to create the perfect track to get radio play when most rappers would have told lies B.I.G. told the truth in how he felt about himself with confidence.
3. “Sky’s the Limit” (Fea.112) (Life After Death,1997)
When we go back and look at the B.I.G. catalog Sky, The Limit is the one where you can tell that he was at a point in his young life where he was truly happy but knew that he had more to accomplish. The song is one of the most uplifting tracks you will find B.I.G. on, and 112 beIng on track added to the already flawless lyrics.
2. “Kick in The Door” (From Life After Death,1997)
“Kick in The Door” was a lyrical F you to everybody in the world that was against B.I.G. This track was like a lyrical snake bite because of the venom that B.I.G. was spilling out from his words. There has been talking over the years that this track was aimed at certain rappers, but in this article, we are just focused on the brilliance of the way B.I.G.
“Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns / as I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper dons / Get in that ass, quick-fast like Ramadan / it’s the rap phenomenon, Don Dada.” And that was just some of the opening lines from the song. B.I.G. was a monster on the mic.
1. “Everyday Struggle” (Ready To Die, 1994)
When It comes to B.I.G.’s greatest song, “Everyday Struggle,” is the song that sticks out because B.I.G. was able to craft an amazing narrative about a friend of his who was a drug kingpin that went through the struggles of life. B.I.G. was able to take details of his friend’s life and paint a picture to his fans that we could see clearly.
This is just another example of how if he were still alive today, B.I.G. would have written books and even television shows because of the way he paid close attention to detail.