Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best of Biggie: My favorites from Chris Wallace

Three years ago, I honored the Notorious B.I.G. in this space and I said that I couldn't do a Top 10 list of my favorite songs. I'm going to try to do it now and while it should be easy because Biggie only has a small catalog of music, it's hard because I enjoy most of his music and as a writer, I love his wordplay and rhyme schemes.

Without further adieu, here goes my list.

Unbelievable - My favorite Biggie record is perfect in every sense. Juicy is perfect too but this one is a great marriage of Biggie's easy flow and DJ Premier simple yet creative and funky beat. The R. Kelly sample in the middle is a great touch. I just love the feeling I get when I hear it.

The What - I love how Biggie and Method Man trade verses. Love how Biggie mimics a hiccup in the middle of his 2nd verse. Love Easy Mo Bee's beat coming smoother than a river.

Party and BS - Biggie's very first single has a great party vibe to it but his opening bars let you know exactly who is "I was a terror since the public school era". The fight breaking out in the middle of verse 3 always cracks me up but I love this record because you hear a hungry MC just describing his wild environment

Gimme the Loot - One of Biggie's most creative records, he raps in two voices as two different kids out for a robbery. The story goes that Biggie rapped the first character and left the 2nd character's lines blank, only to fill it in on another take.

Everyday Struggle - As much as Ready to Die gets remembered for being a pop crossover, there were still songs reminding you that Biggie had an introspective side. This song is one of them. He may be talking about the struggles on being a hustler but anybody with struggles can relate to how you have to do your thing regardless.

Juicy - No explanation necessary. All I say is listen to Pete Rock's original version of this (matter of fact, listen to the whole Ready to Die: OG Version)

Notorious Thugs - Biggie's versatility on full display and everybody tried to quote this verse for years. He copied Bone Thugs N Harmony's double time flow and shined with it. Not to mention Layzie Bone destroyed this track too.

Mo Money, Mo Problems - I'll never get tired of rapping Biggie's verse on this. Again, requires no explanation.

Sky's the Limit - This song is personal encouragement. It got me through some tough times in college. It reminds me to keep going to chase my dreams. It feels like Biggie is sitting on top encouraging you to keep going because he made it, especially when he details what he faced in the 1st verse.

Going Back to Cali - Just like LL Cool J, Biggie made a great West Coast song that didn't sound forced. Sampling Zapp, shouting out various locations I know and love (Venice Beach!) and making me proud to be from L.A. A great, great record.

Special mention goes to Victory, which may have my favorite Biggie verses. I get chills hearing it because it's so technically proficient and I treat it like a victory lap since it's the last song he ever recorded. Also for "The Wickedest" freestyle and his classic Dead Wrong where his old shock raps matched with a young Eminem made one of the craziest records you'll hear.

Happy Birthday to one of the best rappers/writers/MC's we've ever seen. Christopher Wallace.

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