Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Back blogging live from the beautiful neighborhood of Crocker-Amazon to bring you guys the third installment of the G.O.A.T. series. If you missed the first one with Jay-Z, check it here. If you missed part two featuring Rakim, check it there. If you followed the first two, you will notice two different kinds of reviews. They didn't necessarily follow the same format so I'm going to be switching it up again for thus third entry. Just trying to find which writing style is the best so sorry for any confusion or any perceived lack of cohesiveness.
Now that we got that out of the way, the third person I will looking at to determine who truly is the G.O.A.T. is the one and only Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls aka Frank White aka Big Poppa aka Mr. Throw D*** to Dykes, R.I.P. He really doesn't need an introduction but I'll give one anyways just in case. Biggie was recorded two studio albums and has two classics to his name. He has one of the greatest debut albums of all time in Ready To Die. Big not only is one of the most revered MC's to come out of the great 90's era but it one of the most iconic MC's of all time. Jay-Z owes a lot of his career to Big from all the lines that he bites (just kidding, all Jay-Z fans please don't become enraged). I do feel Puffy owes a majority of his career to him though. Think about what Puffy has done recently. Not much that we see, although he does handle his business that is not in the eye of the public. But look at how he was able to even get to that level. The reason Puffy could branch out his entrepreneurial skills was because of his successful record label at Bad Boy. Bad Boy with Biggie and Craig Mack on his roster, not the one with Machine Gun Kelly, French Montana, Red Cafe, and Los aka The Mixtape Beat Jackin Whisperer. No disrespect to Craig mack but the reason why Bad Boy was as big as it was was because of star power of one Mr. Christopher Wallace. He made the dope music to make Bad Boy a legitimate record label to be reckoned with. Big is the reason Puffy even won a grammy for I'll Be Missin' You. But enough talking about Puffy. That's for another time. I feel like I'm just giving him more unnecessary shine. Let's get to talking about the great Biggie Smalls.
It's ironic that Craig Mack was the one that was supposed to blow up for Bod Boy records but then the remix to Flava In Ya Ear happened. Shout out to Easy Mo Bee for producing the track too. He played a HUGE part in making Ready To Die the classic that it is but I digress. Craig Mack was set to blow until the world heard Big's verse and all of a sudden no one really cared about Craig Mack anymore and the hype was now surrounding the husky boy whose words just seemed to fall out of his mouth. It was just a preview of the talent that Big possessed. He gave us some of what he did best which was humor and just dope bars. Spoiler alert, Big wasn't enlightening anyone with his words. He was a New York street rapper meaning how he said what he said was more important than any message he would have delivered.
If you throw the ingredients to make a successful rapper into a blender minus a social message, then Biggie Smalls is what would come out. He made up for the lack of social message by being an inspiration to those who grew up the same way that he did. Big did not make his past as a drug dealer or a crook any secret and let his listeners know that yeah, that lifestyle will bring you money and power but it won't be enough to overcome all the heartbreak and paranoia that comes along with it. On to one of Big's stronger qualities now which was storytelling. I completely underestimated that ability of his until I went back and gave him a thorough listen. It has become something of a lost art nowadays where a rapper might throw one storytelling song onto an album but Big had plenty of them and did them well. I know I'm about to say some stuff that has been said a million times but Biggie was able to paint pictures with his words and put you right there in the scene. He did so in a way that was engaging and kept you intrigued to see how each song ended. I think Biggie should be mentioned as one of the greatest authors of the 20th century but you know how this country won't give a black rapper that kind of love. Now I haven't given Slick Rick a proper listen but I believe Big can claim the title to greatest storyteller of all time. I don't know how much of it is real and how much he made up but he makes it so damn convincing that it really doesn't matter. It's weird how we blast rappers for not being authentic or what have you but we'll complain when Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't win an Oscar for playing a druggie, sleezy, Wall Street con artist. It's media. People need to sell their materials in order to put food on the table. Sometimes you have to lie to get that paper. I don't think Rick Ross really cares that people don't believe anything he says. Rick Ross would make a great WWE villain actually. There's too many examples of Big's great storytelling on two albums that I can't even go through them all, so I'll give examples of a few. Not only is the Intro on Ready To Die one of the greatest intros on any album ever but it set the stage for the album so we knew exactly where he was when Things Done Changed came on. Then he had Gimmie The Loot where he is playing different characters and Warning with possibly my favorite opening lines ever with "who the fuck is this paging me at 5:46 in the morning, crack of dawning, now I'm yawning, wipe the cold out my eye, see who's this paging me and why." Then on that same Ready To Die album he had my favorite Biggie track in Everyday Struggle, shout out to The Wackness. I thought I was going through the struggle right there with Biggie for a second. That is a beautiful piece of art right there. I haven't even gotten to Life After Death yet. But i'm going to lay off the storytelling aspect of Life After Death because that was a different animal compared to his debut and brought Biggie up from the ranks of a dope rapper to a star.
Biggie fans are just like any other fans in any genre. He dropped two albums and fans either like one or the other more. Fans who like actual rapping ability and a more cohesive project from front to back will like Ready To Die more. He had some great commercial tracks on there like Big Poppa and arguably his biggest hit in Juicy but what made him a mainstay on the radio and ensured that everyone him was the double album that was Life After Death. It was definitely more geared to radio plays while sprinkling in his street records. Big took 2pac's advice and made hits for the girls because that is how a rappers gets singles to be successful. That was what makes rappers like Biggie so appealing is the ability to craft songs that both "underground" rap fans and Top 40 fans can both enjoy. Who doesn't know his verse on Mo Money Mo Problems. Everyone can at least recite some of it off the top of their head. This ability to appeal to both the hardcore and casual rap fan is something that is a common denominator you see in the ones who are mentioned as the greatest of all time with the exception of Nas. You look at Jay, Biggie, Eminem, and you see Kanye nowadays mentioned in this conversation and they are because they have skill and know how to make hits.
The last reason why Biggie is considered one of the greatest is because he never released any bulls***. We all know that Big left us too early but that meant that he never had the chance to release sub par material. Every time his pen hit the pad, it was candy to the ears. Look at how much b.s. is released nowadays and it is amazing that Big didn't have any filler. If he was around nowadays, I doubt he would be a slave to the constant pressure of releasing new material because he would be at a status where he would have been above that. The time he took between releasing albums let us know he wasn't just trying to give the public his art as soon as he finished it, but he took his time crafting it. I understand the music industry, especially hip-hop, is in a different place today than in the mid-90's because artists don't have the luxury of time to wait multiple years between projects. They feel the need to constantly release something to keep themselves in the public eye. However, that separates the greats from the average ones. Look at Kendrick. He's got one major label album out, yet everyone is anticipating his follow up. He's kept himself relevant on features and dropped some stuff here and there but that first album was so good, and he has taken his time in crafting his next album that people are anticipating greatness when it does drop. Artists nowadays still can take their time and do the quality over quantity approach. They just have to make sure when that quality does drop, that it is some fire and not some dog shit.
Shout out to Christopher Wallace and his long lasting influence. He still looms large over hip-hop nearly 20 years after he passed away. Rappers coming up now and that were there before him refer to him as one of their favorite MC's ever. He had the respect of everyone and definitely had the talent to back up all the claims of greatness. Thanks for reading...peace.
What's On Your Mind- Eric B. and Rakim
Forever Beef- Lootpack feat. Oh No and Medaphor