“..nah n!**@$ be killing me though son because you know
They be they be coming with your words and sh!t
They hear you say one word then here they come with the word
Trying to flip it and bounce it and sh!t on some bullsh!t
Not sounding right first of all and sh!t, you know what I’m saying?
Boom, but then you got n!**@$ son on the real, you know what I’m saying?
N!**@$ n!**@$ n!**@$ n!**@$ is biting off your album cover and sh!t
Boom, bad enough they biting lines like n!**@$ killed me when they came with some Na-
N!**@$ bit offa Nas sh!t! You know what I’m saying?
Word n!**@$ n!**@$ n!**@$n!**@$ caught his little album cover, boom
Then done did a Nas for that sh!t
I’m like damn what the f**k man?
It’s like these happy-go-lucky n!**@$ man when they get on man
They wanna pop a little, a little champagne, you know what I’m saying? (Ghostface Killah, Shark Ni**@$-Biters, 1995)
Y’all know the story with me, how I got into Wu-Tang, what my first album I ever purchased was… the excerpt above came from that very same album. So I had no idea what Ghost & Rae were talking about but I got the idea on stealing next man’s rhymes. Later I would learn that they were referring to the SECOND album I had ever purchased. How ironic. So loyal to the clan, that one would think I would not support The Notorious B.I.G. because of that fact. Nah. This is my story on another classic album, 20 years later and how it impacted my life. The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die: Rhyme & Reason.
Released: September 13, 1994, Bad Boy Records/Arista
1. INTRO – 3:23
The album begins with the birth of this man and watch his growth of how he became the man we got to know. For me this was another journey on my paper round… later I will reveal how I chose this album… that’s my intro.
2. THINGS DONE CHANGED – 3:58
He ain’t lying when he said that. Funny how B.I.G. reflects on back in the days and now that’s what we be doing when we look back to this era. Like Biggie says ‘turn your pages back to 1993’… he said this in 1994! Now it’s 2014… This was a case of Biggie being ahead of his time because we crave 1993 now… there you are, posting pics on social media saying ‘Rap was better before’ and things like that… you won’t catch me saying that… I love hip hop as it is now, big tunes showcased here all the time!
3. GIMME THE LOOT – 5:04
The classic robbin’ anthem. Such a non-commercial hit that even Will Smith quoted it in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air… and Will never promoted robbing people, but his show made his fans aware that those things happened. I think the show still gets regular TV time today because it was a streetwise version of The Cosby Show. Cosby Show was always on positive issues, but Fresh Prince did that but let viewers know what’s really real.
4. MACHINE GUN FUNK – 4:17
“Biggie compares a life of crime to a life of rhyme; as he said in an interview this was his favorite song.” It’s not hard to see why. The Easy Mo Bee beat knocks hard while BIG is glad that he could put his hustling days behind him and put that hustle into music.
5. WARNING – 3:40
From Biggie’s favourite track on the album to my favourite track on the album… we’ve all done it, enjoying a nice sleep, probably having dreams about our favourite R&B female artist (R&B men for the ladies…) and then BAAAM! 5.46 in the morning somebody decides to call you, and you are not too happy about it… common sense says switch your phone off while you sleep but we don’t even do that… and the conversation is probably not even important…even now, I’ll tell you straight – I don’t respond to guys running up my FB inbox after midnight… my subconscious says it’s not right… unless of course it’s important or the recipient is from the States.
6. READY TO DIE – 4:24
This carries on from Warning. Some people say that like Pac, BIG foreseen his death which was why he had song/album titles like this… almost like they jinxed themselves. First time I heard this admittedly I wasn’t feeling it… I wanted the track to hurry up and finish so I can get to the main reason why I got the album….
7. ONE MORE CHANCE – 4:43
…my story really started here, just like all the other suckers like me… the hip hop heads who knew already got the album and were high on B.I.G. I saw this tune on Yo! MTV Raps, but it was so big it was on The Soul of MTV (Shout out to Lisa I’Anson – GOOD LAWD SHE WAS FINE! I had a huge crush on her back in the day.) When it was played on MTV though it wasn’t acknowledged as a REMIX even though Puff Daddy told us so at the beginning. So here’s me buying the album only to discover the original version.. and I was so disappointed. But I only had myself to blame.
8. #!*@ ME (INTERLUDE) – 1:31
One thing I missed about 90s Hip Hop that there were several albums that had sexual intercourse skits… this one was as funny as they come. Jodeci playing in the background, and the more Biggie put in work, the more his lady was cussing him! The disturbing thing was, the skit gave you a vivid picture in your head.
9. THE WHAT – 3:57
So much for that skit Ghost & Rae! Your own Wu-Tang brethen jumped on the same album! Not only that, RZA produced for B.I.G. on his sophomore album, and then on Biggie’s third album Born again, Meth & Red appeared on ‘Rap Phenomenon’ produced by DJ Premier! So by Supreme Clientele, Ghost had to send apologies on Ghost Deini! Then on Fishscale album, Ghost & Rae felt like they found closure by featuring B.I.G. on Three Bricks!
10. JUICY – 5:02
My true introduction to Biggie started with this tune right here. Now if you are a gamer, or even if you’re not, you would remember that ONE scene in the video… Ryu & Chun-Li fighting on Street Fighter II, on Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis…the execution of that lyric right there alone gave me goosebumps, like I was 15 watching the video like ‘WOW! What does Biggie know about this???’ You know that feel good feeling you have when your favourite rapper is quoting something you love?
11. EVERYDAY STRUGGLES – 5:19
I’m about to bring an arguable point… I think this tune was the most underrated on the album. I can tell you now this was my second favourite track on the album next to Warning. I know that this tune is underrated because Faith Evans recreated the track and featured… yes you guessed it – Chef Raekwon. Brilliant rendition of a classic.
12. ME & MY B*TCH – 4:00
2Pac had a tune called ‘Me & My Girlfriend’. Biggie takes the more profane approach on his story of his perfect woman. We all got our stories of our perfect partner. Thankfully for me, my story is written now. She would kill for me…. on CALL OF DUTY!!!! LITERALLY! I am forever grateful.
13. BIG POPPA – 4:12
‘The title is based on one of The Notorious B.I.G.’s many nicknames. The line “I love when you call me Big Poppa” is sampled from his verse from the remix of Supercat’s song “Dolly My Baby,” released in 1993’. (Rap Genius)
I have a question, where was Puff Daddy going when he said, ‘you call your friends, I’ll call my friends, then we can be friends?’ I used to watch that video and say – ‘what a fool!!!’ Yeah I was a playa hater and what!!!
14. RESPECT – 5:21
The other major crush I had back in the day was Diana King. Where is she in the world today? She and Patra…. When Diana did that ‘Shy Guy’ I thought she was singing about me… yes I was a Shy Guy back in the day, I was all about my Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis… at that time I was not usually attracted to women with short hair but there was something about this woman…
15. FRIEND OF MINE – 3:28
Biggie is outta orda & bright! It’s ok, I’ve been there too… ‘you know I don’t do this…’ SURE YOU DON’T!!! In case you are confused of what I’m referring to, it’s the graphic skit before this track and I’ll leave it at that. I like Biggie’s spin on the Wu-Tang reference: “The blunts and brew thang, knocking some Wu-Tang/M-E-T-H-Oh shit, look at them lips and them hips on that b!tch…”
The funny thing is I have a friend whose moms has lectured me about scandalous women who go for your friend after they finished with you… and I was a nearly a victim of it first hand… My friend finished with his woman after she got caught cheating… a few months later I saw her in a club and she tried to flirt and bubble up on me. I was distraught… some of you are probably asking ‘why didn’t I take a piece?’ Nah I don’t go out like that…
16. UNBELIEVABLE – 3:43
The story behind this is better told by DJ Premier… what struck me was the way B.I.G. just sat there in the studio for hours, looked like he wasn’t doing anything, Premo constructed the beat, and just like that, B.I.G. got up and spat the lyrics. That is SKILLS. UNBELIEVABLE… If you will. That’s what I love about Hip Hop… a great producer will take anything, sample it and turn it into a banger, did you ever think a slow jam like R.Kelly’s Your Body’s Calling would turn into a classic hip hop banger?
17. SUICIDAL THOUGHTS 2:50
It’s NOT COOL to have your bredrin sound like this… I’ve had a woman constantly call me and her thoughts were not as bad but would potentially become that bad… in musical terms this was creative by B.I.G. Ending the album on a cliffhanger and then continuing the story on the next album which was too spooky because it was released weeks after his death.
18. WHO SHOT YA – 5:19
I was happy-go-lucky with my albums… My cousin borrowed it then he pulled a fast one on me and said something like ‘he took it to London and then he left it…’ Not happy about it but one day I woke up and thought – I’m gonna get the remastered version of this album. The first time, it was on cassette tape. this time it’s in my CD collection. This tune was hard to get at the time. Unless you taped it from the radio it was almost impossible to get this.
19. JUST PLAYING (DREAMS) 2:43
This goes back to what I was talking about on ‘Respect’… Diana King, Patra, Toni Braxtons…Adina Howard… I still have those dreams now… this time on that list, Jhene Aiko, Heather Victoria, Arika Kane… if you don’t know… GET TO KNOW! Heather Victoria actually tweeted me a happy birthday early this year… so you know how sweet I felt!
Another reason of me getting this album back then, I was about quantity over quality… I used to think, why spend £10 on an album that had 13 songs when I could pay the same price for an album that had 17? That was my logic. I got lucky on my first 2 albums… Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and Ready to Die. 20 years later I still get asked the same two questions: One – Ready to Die or Life After Death? The other and the most annoying, Are you East Coast or West Coast? I will answer those questions right here on this article once and for all: Put it like this: I own this album, but I don’t own Life After Death. I don’t own a single 2Pac album either… some of you gasp, some of you understand. Those who understand know that Hip Hop isn’t limited to Pac, B.I.G., Jay, Nas…. that’s ignorant. Not owning certain classic albums is NOT A CRIME. It’s not an unwritten rule that you HAVE to own these albums, but I can say this: Ready to Die was such a classic album that even Carlton Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air had a copy of it. Don’t believe me? watch the last ever episode and you will see!
CHRISTOPHER WALLACE a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. SALUTE