It was nearly 20 years today that the Notorious B.I.G. left us, but he's never been forgotten.
His murder, six months after rival and former friend Tupac Shakur, has rocked the hip hop community for 19 years.
Christopher George Latore Wallace was shot by an unknown gunman on March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, just 16 days before his third album, Life After Death, was released. Less than three years later, the double album would be certified diamond
Despite the hype, controversy, conspiracy, and mourning surrounding the east coast/west coast rivalry, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami Biggie's musical accomplishments made.
In terms of popular hip hop from New York City, Biggie may be the king.
So we're running down a list of our favorite Biggie tracks. Terms like "best" don't necessarily belong here. This isn't really a ranking. There are some smash hits that are undeniably his most popular songs, but what makes any of them better than the others?
It's all Biggie; it's all classic, so check it out.
1. "Big Poppa"
"Big Poppa" may be the best known Biggie song ever. It's entirely likely that you could bump "Big Poppa" in Tokyo, London, Moscow, or New Delhi and people would know it.
If they didn't, they'd still probably bob their heads because it's a priceless track.
Part of Biggie's style is ultimate smoothness, and the R&B style to the beat in "Big Poppa" is a perfect example.
Biggie appeals to women as well as men in a specifically Biggie way. He doesn't come off too vulnerable, but his heart is in his lyrics even through the armor of a street-wise tough guy.
"Hynotize" has been making parties and clubs rock for years. From the second the track starts, most parties will erupt-- especially in the City.
From his posthumous Life After Death album, "Hypnotize" is a track Biggie unfortunately never got to see blow up.
Nevertheless, it's one of his most popular tracks because it's a great example of what his music is all about-- smooth, confident lyrics and danceable beats with a laid back quality.
"Juicy" is one of Biggie's "I Made It" tracks. It's the soundtrack to the grind. Through visions of poverty and struggle, Biggie shares an optimistic outlook. It's a sigh of relief.
While the beat eases your mind, Biggie's lyrics remind you that everyone has hard times, and they're not going to last forever.
4. "Mo Money, Mo Problems (featuring Mase & Puff Daddy)
This is one of Biggie's most anthemic tracks. The guitars, the "I'm coming up" samples, the swell before the hook-- it's all there to build you up.
"Mo Money, Mo Problems" shows us that grinding can bring wealth, and that the problems don't stop when you're out of the hood. Despite those realities, and despite all struggles, there's always a reason to celebrate.
5. "Who Shot Ya?"
A big part of the east coast/west coast drama between Pac and Biggie can be traced back to this song. While Biggie maintained he had nothing to do with the initial attempted murder on Tupac, "Who Shot Ya" seemed to imply he planned it all.
It's pretty clear that if Biggie was trying to attack Pac with this track, he would have aimed it directly at him rather than being vague. Either way, it's a banger track. It exemplifies Biggie's harder side, the side that's a crack hustling, street rapping, stainless hand cannon rocking soldier.
6. "Ten Crack Commandments"
"Ten Crack Commandments" is a part of what makes Biggie's anthology a street playbook. It runs down the basics of selling crack in the ghetto like a hustler's field manual-- and that's why it's great. Biggie was unabashedly unashamed of his grind.
To him and countless others, it's all part of staying alive. "Ten Crack Commandments" is as much of a cautionary tale as it is a guide, and the fact that Biggie makes the necessity clear rather than glorifying the practice for no reason is reveals the complexity of his outlook.
7. "Gimme the Loot"
Many of Biggie's most popular tracks, regardless of lyrical content, are pretty laid back-- but not "Gimme the Loot." Much like "Who Shot Ya?" this one is hype.
Now while Biggie often expresses a degree of regret, or the realization that hustling is a means to an end-- not here. In "Gimme the Loot," Biggie is impatient, antsy, and angry.
8. "The What (featuring Method Man)"
"The What" is another chill track. Biggie's flow is so light on its feet that it floats on the beat perfectly. Not to mention the addition of Method Man on the track. Meth had been growing his reputation solo and with Wu Tang for years by the time this came around.
The two of them combined are smooth and to the point. It's succinct, and visual: "I used to do stick-ups / cause hoes is irritating like the hiccups / Excuse me, flows just grow through me / Like trees to branches, cliffs to avalanches / It's the praying mantis."[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]