#179: Life After Death, The Notorious B.I.G.
We’re on another streak of death on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. This is Biggie’s sophomore effort after Ready to Die, #22. Unfortunately, two weeks before its release, he was shot and killed at just 24 years old.
It’s impossible for me to ignore the tragic irony of Biggie’s two albums having titles that center around death and legacy. He apparently chose the titles long before their release; the third album was supposed to be called “Born Again.” Still, it’s so bittersweet to listen to the final track, “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You).”
There’s a lot of hullaballoo about Biggie’s death (and the death of his rival Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, who features at #436 on the list) but I’m not here to engage in conspiracy theories. I’m just here to listen to music.
“Life After Death” — Previously on Ready to Die… This got me jazzed up. This is what a rap intro should do!
“Somebody’s Gotta Die” — This song rocks, but get ready: this is a looong album, and there is a lot of violence. Here’s my counterpoint: Why can’t we be friends??
“Hypnotize” — This was the first single off the album and the only one he was able to appear in a video for, and it is a JAM.
“Kick in the Door” — This beginning skit made me giggle. “Yeah, I got a question. Why are you so mad?” I also appreciate the production on this so much; it sounds like an old jazz record is playing in the background.
“Last Day (feat. The LOX)” — Can I live to my last day?
“I Love The Dough (feat. Jay-Z & Angela Winbush)” — Oh look, it’s my boyfriend Jay-Z! I will admit, Jay brings a certain je ne sais quoi to every song he’s featured in.
“What’s Beef?” — So the big lyrical theme in this album is that Biggie has many rap enemies, and he’s going to eviscerate them all. Beef is when you’re mom ain’t safe up in the streets! Damn, Biggie Smalls, don’t come for my mom!
“Mo Money Mo Problems (feat. Puff Daddy & Mase)” — What a cheerful guitar part! This is criminally catchy. Also, the music video sans Biggie is kind of wild.
“Miss U” — It’s genuinely nice to hear Biggie be earnest and sweet.
“Another (feat. Lil’ Kim)” — Was nobody going to tell me that Lil’ Kim rules??
“Going Back to Cali” — I’m going going/Back back/To Cali Cali. This one is firmly stuck in my head and I’m not sure it will ever come out.
“Playa Hater” — His singing voice is painful (especially at the end), but that’s the point: Biggie can do whatever the hell he wants.
“Long Kiss Goodnight” — Okay — according to B.I.G.’s cousin Lil’ Cease, this song is about 2Pac, Biggie’s rival who was killed the year prior to this album coming out.
LEAST FAVORITE SONGS:
“Nasty Boy” — Apparently I’m a big old prude when it comes to sex-rap jams. Listen, I support the idea of them, but I’m just too bashful.
IS RS FULL OF IT?
Maybe I need to give Ready to Die another listen, because this album slayed me. (And not in a, Biggie-Has-Beef-With-Me kind of way.)