Whether you call him The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie, or Biggie Smalls it is no secret that Christopher George Latore Wallace is one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Raised in Brooklyn, the rapper would become a central figure in East Coast hip hop and put New York on the map when it came to music.
Biggie lost his life on March 9, 1997 in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. But even through death, he has life because his lyrics have been sampled and quoted by a variety of hip hop, R&B and pop artists including Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Nelly, Ja Rule, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Game, Clinton Sparks, Michael Jackson and Usher.
We would not do his legacy any justice if we didn’t do our part to remind or even enlighten the new era music fans of what he brought to the table and even if they are not so familiar with his actual work, we are sure that you are familiar with some of the tracks he lives through from some of our favorites!!
Hypnotize was released as the first single from Biggie’s Life After Death album and the last song released in his lifetime. It was the fifth song by a credited artist to hit number 1 posthumously. It was ranked number 30 on Rolling Stone’s 50 greatest rap songs of all time in Hip Hop history. This track is sampled by Monica on ‘I’m Back’ and ‘Run’ by Bell Biv Devoe.
Big Poppa was released as the second single from Biggie’s first studio album Ready to Die. The song was also nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1996 Grammy Awards and also went on to win at the Billboard Music Awards. This track was sampled on Jamie Foxx ‘Living Better Now’ and Omarion’s ‘Let’s Talk’.
Juicy is Biggie’s debut single. The song is considered by Rolling Stone, The Source and About.com as one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time. This track is sampled by the likes of Teedra Moses on the ‘Be Your Girl (Remix)’ and ‘The One’ by Tamar Braxton.
Who Shot Ya? is one of Biggie’s most controversial records. It served as a B-side to his 1995 hit single, “Big Poppa”. The track was later released on the posthumous album Born Again, the remastered edition of Ready to Die, and The Greatest Hits. It inspired quite a few tracks like ‘So Many Ways (Tamar’s Mix Extended)’ by The Braxtons, ‘Alone in This World’ by Faith Evans and ‘Anything (To Find You)’ by Monica featuring Rick Ross.
Mo Money Mo Problems was the second single from Life After Death. The song is Biggie’s second posthumous number one single, following “Hypnotize”, making him the only artist in Hot 100 history to have two #1 singles posthumously. The song was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Ariana Grande featured Childish Gambino with her take on the track titled ‘Break Your Heart Right Back’.
Get Money is the third and final single released from the Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s debut album, Conspiracy. It became the group’s second biggest hit, peaking at 17 on the Billboard 100. Erykah Badu sampled the record for her track “Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)”.
Everyday Struggle from Biggie’s 1994 Ready To Die album was sampled by wife and widow, Faith Evans for the track by the same name. She tapped Raekwon for assistance. Warning was sampled by Keyshia Cole for her “If I Fall in Love Again”. She tapped Faith Evans to assist her on the record. Machine Gun Funk was used for Ralph Tresvant’s “Love Hangover”.
Sky’s the Limit is the third single from Biggie’s sophomore album Life After Death. It features vocals from 112 and was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1998. Cheri Dennis sampled the track on her “Dropping Out of Love”. Another track from the album titled Ten Crack Commandments was later sampled by SWV for their track “Someone” and Lil Mo featuring Lil Kim for ‘Ten Commandments’.
One More Chance may be one of the most commercially embraced song from Biggie. It featured additional vocals sung by his wife Faith Evans and an uncredited appearance by Mary J. Blige. It was certified platinum by the RIAA on July 31, 1995 and sold 1.1 million copies. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was the highest debuting single of all time, tying with Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson song “Scream” when it entered the Hot 100 at #5 at the time. It remained the highest debuting single for a rap song on the Hot 100 until Puff Daddy’s tribute song “I’ll Be Missing You” debuted at #1. (Lauryn Hill and Eminem would later equal this feat, with the former’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” entering in the top spot in 1998 and the latter with “Not Afraid” in 2010.) This song has been sampled by the likes of Ashanti on ‘Foolish’ and ‘Unfoolish’, Mariah Carey’s ‘More Than Just Friends’ and Usher’s ‘What Happened to U’.
Going Back to Cali is from the Life After Death album and is noted as one of Biggie’s popular songs from the album, well known for its catchy hook and beat. Usher covered this one for his ‘If I Want To’ and Faith Evans tapped The Notorious B.I.G. and Snoop Dogg for ‘When We Party’.
Player’s Anthem is the first single released from the Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s debut album Conspiracy. It became a big hit for the group, peaking at 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the RIAA on September 7, 1995 for sales of over 500,000 copies. You will hear this song being sampled by Donell Jones on “You Should Know”.
Life After Death gave birth to several new songs. Biggie’s I Got a Story to Tell found new life on Rihanna and Jay Z’s “Talk That Talk”. Whereas Long Kiss Goodnight found new life on Lucy Pearl’s “They Can’t” and Treasure Davis “May The Bitter Man Win” featuring J. Cole. Trey Songz tapped Nicki Minaj for his take on Fuck You Tonight for his track “Touchin’, Lovin’”.
It’s been 20 years since his death, but as you can see there is still not a day that goes by where you don’t feel Christopher’s presence whether it be through his own voice or the many he inspires in the industry! What are some of your favorite records from the great rapper?
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