On March 9th, 1997, the world lost an icon, an entertainer, a father, a beloved member of the hip hop community, a visionary, a lyrical genius, and a true urban legend. That was the day Christopher George Latore Wallace, but known to many as Biggie Smalls, aka Frank White, aka the Notorious B.I.G. died and the hip hop world has not been the same since he left, but his legacy will live on forever.
Every March 9th, real hip hop heads sit back, reminisce, and “remember back in the days, when niggaz had waves, gazelle shades, and corn braids, pitchin pennies, Honeys had the high top jellys, mothaf#%kers was all friendly, lougin at barbeques, drinkin brews, with the neighborhood crews, sittin on the avenues,” and embrace the masterpiece that was Biggie Smalls.
Here are my top 10 Notorious B.I.G. songs of all time. RIP Big.
#10) “PARTY AND BULLSH*T”
This was the first time I heard Big. It was on the “Who’s the Man?” soundtrack. Big was just raw back then. He was a SOURCE Unsigned Hype emcee who went from Uptown records w then A &R Sean “Puffy” Combs, over to Bad Boy Records, Combs label that he started once he left Uptown. “Party and Bullshit” was the first solo record that was released under his name.
#9) MACHINE GUN FUNK”
This is one of my favorite records off “Ready to Die.” “So you wanna be hardcore….” Is how the song starts with a beat that just gets you going. Produced by Easy Mo Bee, this is one of Big’s many lyrical gems.
#8) “SKY’S THE LIMIT”
This is one of Big’s most underated songs. Produced by Clark Kent, Big goes in on this banger of the second disc of “Life After Death.” The hook features the R&B group 112. This song is a B.I.G. motivational tale. Big spits, “To protect my position, my corner, my layer, While we out here, say the hustler’s prayer, If the game shakes me or breaks me, I hope it makes me a better man, Take a better stand, Put money in my mom’s hand, Get my daughter this college plan, So she don’t know no man, Stay far from timid, Only make moves when ya heart’s in it, And live by the phrase Sky’s the Limit, Mothaf#%kers, see you chumps on top.” Classic. And it has one of my favorite videos, directed by Spike Jonze, starring kids in roles that play out people in BIG’s life.
#7) “ONE MORE CHANCE” (REMIX)
“First things first, I poppa, freak all the hunnies, dummies, playboy bunnies, those wanting money…” Ummmm banger. Hear this in the club and everybody breaks out into a smile. If you can’t groove with a shorty to this track then you got two left feet. One of the best remixes that I have ever heard, along with the “hip hop” remix to this track, Big turned one of the “on the low” hot “Ready to Die” joints into a club phenomenon.
#6) “WHO SHOT YA”
This is one of Big’s most memorable songs and one that is talked about in close relation to the Tupac Shakur shooting. Some have claimed that it is a diss track aimed right at Shakur, mocking his robbery and shooting in New York City. I think its pure hip hop genius. “Who Shot ya, Separate the weak from the ob-solete, Leap hard to creep them Brooklyn streets, It’s on n#gga, f#%k all that bickering beef, I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek….” Hard lyrics.
#5) “TEN CRACK COMMANDMENTS”
Gotta love it with Biggie and DJ Premier team up. The end result is always damn near perfection. “Ten Crack Commandments” is another standout from the “Life After Death” album. On this banger, Biggie breaks down his ten philosophies of life. You stick by these rules and you’re good. I love #7: “This rule is so underrated, Keep your family and business completely separated, Money and blood don’t mix like two d*cks and no bitch, find yourself in serious sh*t.” Hahaha, way to tell ’em, Big.
Beats, rhymes, and life are the true calling of this Big classic. This is Big’s ultimate tale. It’s probably his most well known song and one that will go down in hip hop history. It’s one of Biggie’s most commercial records and is his rags to riches story. Produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs, “Juicy” is a song that most people in the mid 90’s could relate to in one way or another. It was a song that made you feel good and smile. “Birthdays were the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirsty, Uh, Damn right I like the life I live, cause it went from negative to positive and it’s all good…and if you don’t know” Then now you know.
#3) “I GOT A STORY TO TELL”
Have you ever heard a smoother beat than this one? Produced by Buckwild and backed with a sample of Al Green’s “I’m Glad Your Mine,” this song closes out the great first disc of Big’s “Life After Death.” This song is rumored to be about an ex New York Knick. Whatever the case may be, Big hits on all cylinders in this classic. The lyrics are a little too graphic for me to mention in this piece, but please give this track a listen and a head nod, and thank Big for the storyteller that he was.
This is the quintessential homicide narrative from Mr. Christopher Wallace. Produced by Easy Mo Bee and sampling Issac Hayes “Walk On By,” “Warning” is a lyrical masterpiece. Two and half minutes of straight lyrical venom letting his pray know what’s going to happen as he’s about to die. “Call the coroner, there’s gonna be alot of slow singin’ and flower bringin’, if my burgular alarm starts ringi’n, Whatcha think all the guns is for? All purpose war got the rottweilers by the door, and I feed ’em gun powder so they can devour, The criminals tryin’ to drop my decimals, DAMN… niggaz wanna stick me for my C.R.E.A.M., Man it ain’t a dream, things ain’t always what it seem.”
It was extremely tough to pick my favorite Biggie Smalls song because there are so many to choose from. But this song has always been the crown jewel when it comes down to my favorite rap songs. “Unbelievable” is pure brilliance. It’s got everything I want in a great hip hop track. Sick beat, (check) tight lyrics, (check) tight production, (check) and the very important likability factor; (check) the song has it all. It’s a fun song to listen to and it’s a rapper’s delight. Big spits on this track and he throws darts all over this DJ Premier gem. This is another classic of “Ready to Die.” That album is what gazillion rappers would die to make. Christopher Wallace made one of the most likable and appreciated albums of all time and it was his coming out party. I will end this article with his lyrics that are simply, unbelievable.
“Live from Bedford–Stuyvesant, the livest one, Representin’ BK to the fullest, Gats I pull it, bastards duckin’ when Big be buckin’, Chickenheads be cluckin’ in my bathroom f***in’, It ain’t nuttin’, they know Big be handlin’, with the mac in the Ac’ door panelin’, Bandaging MC’s, oxygen they can’t breathe, Mad tricks up the sleeve, wear boxers so my d*ck can breathe, Breeze through in the Q-45 by my side, lyrical high, And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches, Get smoked like dutches from the master, Hate to blast ya, but I have ta, you see I smoke a lot, Your life is played out like Kwame, and them fuckin’ polka dots, Who rock the spot? Biggie! You know how the weed go, unbelievable.”
Rest in peace, Christopher Wallace.
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