Notorious B.I.G.: 15 years, 15 songs
Notorious B.I.G.passed away 15 years ago today, and a decade and a half later, his absence still echoes. The man born Christopher Wallace rapped about the violence of the drug trade and spent nine months behind bars, but he never lived life on the edge the way Tupac Shakur did.
Many still conflate their two deaths as one long, continuous nightmare, and it’s easy to see why: They were each gunned down while driving away from major public events (Shakur following a boxing match, Biggie after an awards show). They were the two biggest icons in the ridiculous East Coast/West Coast rap war that was really just a tiff between Bad Boy Records founder Diddy (he was still Sean “Puffy” Combs back then) and Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight. And they often traded lyrical barbs, though they were actually admirers and occasional collaborators.
Biggie’s death remains senseless and frustrating for selfish reasons — unlike Shakur, he did not leave behind a vast archive of unreleased music, and his posthumous albums have ranged from spotty (Born Again) to downright insulting (Duets: The Final Chapter). Still, his body of work consists of two stone-cold classic albums: 1994’s Ready to Die and 1997’s Life After Death (released only 16 days after his murder).
Below are the 15 songs you should crank up extra loud today in honor of the man known as Biggie Smalls. (Apologies to “Kick In the Door,” “Going Back to Cali,” and “F— You Tonight.”)
Key Lyric: “Poppa been smooth since days of Underoos.”
Key Lyric: “I made the change from a common thief to up close and personal with Robin Leach.”
“Ten Crack Commandments”
Key Lyric: “Follow these rules you’ll have mad bread to break up / If not, 24 years on the wake-up / Slug hit your temple, watch your frame shake-up / The caretaker did your makeup.”
Key Lyric: “Whatcha think all the guns is for? All purpose war / Got the Rottweilers by the door / And I feed ’em gunpowder so they can devour the criminals trying to drop my decimals.”
Key Lyric: “Look what that slick s— bought you / A first class ticket to Lucifer / Real name Christopher / Watch me set it off like Vivica.”
“I Love the Dough”
Key Lyric: “Pop corks of the best grapes / Make the best CDs and the best tapes / Don’t forget the vinyl / Take girls, break spinals / Biggie be Richie like Lionel.”
“Mo Money Mo Problems”
Key Lyric: “B-I-G P-O-P-P-A / No info for the DEA / Federal agents mad ’cause of flagrant / Tapped myself and my phone in the basement.”
“Things Done Changed”
Key Lyric: “If I wasn’t in the rap game / I’d probably have a key knee-deep in the crack game / Because the streets is a short stop / Either you slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.”
“Gimme The Loot”
Key Lyric: “You’re talking to the robbery expert / Step into your wake with your blood on my shirt.”
“Machine Gun Funk”
Key Lyric: “That’s why I pack a nina / F— a misdemeanor / Beatin’ motherf—ers like Ike beat Tina.”
Key Lyric: “Let’s get this money baby / They shady? We get shady / Dress up like ladies and burn’em with dirty 380s.”
“One More Chance”
Key Lyric: “F— what you heard, who’s the best in New York? / Fulfilling fantasies without that n—- Mr. Roarke / Or Tattoo.”
Key Lyric: “Soon as he buy that wine I just creep up from behind / And ask you what your interests are / Who you be with? / Things that make you smile / What numbers to dial / You gon’ be here for a while? I’ll go call my crew, you go call your crew, we can rendezvous at the bar around two.”
“Sky’s the Limit”
Key Lyric: “Getting larger in waist and taste / Ain’t no telling where this felon is headed / Just in case, keep a shell at the tip of your melon / Clear the space / Your brain was a terrible thing to waste.”
“Long Kiss Goodnight”
Key Lyric: “I got the lettuce and you turn green like cucumber skin / I got new Hummer in the summer when I was a newcomer then / Drugs and MAC-10s.”
What are your favorite Biggies? Remember him in the comments.
Read more on EW.com: