Talking about rap legends is always complicated. Last week, we dealt with a piece of Tupac Shakurand this week it’s the turn of a piece of Notorious BIG to record again. With added difficulty: notorious released only one real album during his lifetime. It’s hard not to tell the difference, in terms of quality, between his real album and the posthumous projects that were revised and sold after his death in March 1997.
Biggie is part of this rare caste of artists who have a posthumous discography that is more extensive than what they released during their lifetime. But, why do rap fans respect him so much? Thanks to his only studio album, “Ready-To-Die”released by 1994which creates a kind of fascination around the nature of Biggie. It must be said that his size and his talent challenge: 140 kilos approximately for 1m90, and a voice, as well as a sense of rhyme, which returned to all of America in the first half of 90s.
After becoming a crack dealer, Biggie found this P. Diddywhich got him signed to a major label before eventually establishing his own structure and signing notorious. This label is Bad Boy Records, and this structure will quickly become an important major in the US game. Thanks to the business talent of P. Diddybut also thanks to the talent and aura of notorious, which inspires many young rappers. Regarding Bad Boy, the label starts from the bottom up, everything has to be done, and we will use it Biggie to be a showcase of what the label can do. The title “Your Money Is Your Problem” conceived in this spirit: contained in the second album of notorious “Life After Death” released 16 days after his death, it is a feature with Diddylabel head, and Ma$enew signing bad boy which should be emphasized.
Bad Boy Records at the top of hip hop
while bad boy is a new structure, best known by Biggie and Craig Mack from singles to spades. But the boss Diddy Wants to make his label that way and make it bigger than the artists signed there. For that, you have to stand out, and prove that to the competitors bad boy is “the place to be”. Ma$e So sent to the front, and featured the first verse of this rather happy and danceable title: it’s time to celebrate.
and Ma$e more than work: he gave us a couple of cult, technical, rhythmic, to the point that the same sentences will be rapped as a tribute by many rappers after him (like Drake in Worst Character : ”Now, who is hot, who is not? Tell me who is the rock, who is the salt in the shops? You tell me who flopped, who stopped the blue drop? Whose jewels have stones? Who is the typical Dolce down to the tube socks?”. The rapper launched a rhetorical question: so, tell me, who is the hottest? Where does it rap best? Where can we sell millions of albums?
In this house bad boy no more. They seemed unstoppable with this title, and Ma$e then gave way to P.Diddy. Diddy whose real rap appearances are just amazing. He is more used to creating atmospheres or monologues where he gives life lessons than rapping pure and simple, especially at the time (his first solo project will be released a few hours after the project of Biggie). This verse is a risk for the producer, especially because he tied himself between two very good rappers, but he did more than work and managed to take us around his egotrip: “I’m the D of A of DDY, you know you’d rather see me die than see me fly”. We’re good with the “Mo Money Mo problems” theme, with Diddy having to deal with his haters.
The contribution of Diddy did not stop at this verse, and he made the instrumental of this title, based on samples of the song of Diana Ross, “I’m going out”. Pop and RnB influences that never fade away Diddy, and the latter gives the song a celebratory air. And this though Biggie just died.
More money, more problems: a premonition?
What’s most compelling about listening to Biggie is that sometimes he feels like he knows he’s going to die young, unexpectedly. This feeling can also be due to the fact that the album was released 2 weeks after his death, and that P. Diddy the fame “Life After Death” when he was about to be called “Live Till Die…’Til Death Do Us Part”. That stays well in context. song title, “Your Money Is Your Problem”, is also quite sad to be honest. Biggie seems to be saying that what he’s going through now in rapping since he got rich is more dangerous than what he went through when he was doing crack in New York. And the rest of his story sadly proves him right…
His background as a salesman, he subtly hints at from the beginning of his verse: “BIGPOPPA, no information for DEA”. Biggie is not a DEA informant, he assures you. He was on the other side. He continues the ego trip while dropping here and there slang words from drug dealer practices like “triple beam, or federal investigation.
Biggie can rap about anything, he always has this ease ances for him to bounce his voice over the instrumental, in a rhythm that only he has mastered and makes him very attractive. If we add that to his vocal timbre, we realize that he is an instrument in himself, musically like no other rapper, without singing for a second.
And when he wants to show everyone that he has mastered the art of rap like no one else, he does not hesitate to invent words by adding syllables, the famous “-izzle” that made him famous among many others more tracks: “I got the dough, got the pizat flow, Platinum plus like thizat, Dangerous with trizacks, leave your ass flizat”. Notorious gets paid, he goes multi-platinum on his previous project, he’s in the game, he’s dangerous in the voices and on the road, and he leaves you with your ass.
Not much to add to that, the MC raps like no one else, and knows how to do it in a bad way. We can also talk about the clip, kitsch as it can be, with P.Diddy as a bling bling golfer dedicating his victory to Biggie, then to Diddy and Mase dancing among dancers with disco lights even where and pictures of the deceased Biggie. A huge and absolutely crazy clip, and definitely one of the first rap clips where we play a dead…
P.Diddy’s megalomaniac knows no bounds. But without him, this super catchy production alone is half the job would not exist. An amazing track, from an amazing rapper, in an amazing context. Nothing to add.