Ready to Die by The Notorious BIG (1994)
This album is an absolute rap classic. This album not only brought Biggie Smalls into stardom, but made Diddy into a major producer and ended an era of rap dominated by the West Coast. It brought listeners back to New York, which allowed other notable East-Coast rappers like Nas, Mobb Deep, and Jay Z into the mainstream. This is perhaps my favorite album of all time, and I would sincerely recommend it to anyone interested in getting into hip-hop. It was my rap album after all. Rating: 4.5/5
Here are the tracks:
1. Intro: Introduces the listener to Biggie from birth to modern times. It is divided into four sections: his birth, the diminishing of his parent's marriage, a robbery, and his release from prison. Its a fine way to start an album that details his life experiences. 4/5.
2. Things Done Changed: This track conveys to the listener of how times have changed in the hood since his childhood. There are numerous comparisons of the past and today, and the present is depicted by Biggie as being much more violent. 5/5
3. Gimme The Loot: One of my favorite songs from this album, the track is about one of his robberies. with an accomplice, Biggie goes around the neighborhood and robs citizens of the jewelry and cash. what is remarkable about this track is how Biggie plays his accomplice as well, and I was convinced for a long time that he actually had another rapper in the track. When listening, just understand that this song is considered gangsta rap, so you can tell that it will be very explicit. 5/5
4. Machine Gun Funk: A track for the clubs, Machine Gun Funk is a song of drugs, alcohol, and girls. Much like the rap of today. 4/5
5. Warning: An excellent song, Warning is about an attempt on Biggie's life. An informant warns Biggie of hit men planning to kill him, and he responds to this claim with shock and anger. He talks about how he's going to kill the hit men, and he does exactly that at the song's conclusion. 5/5
6. Ready to Die: A title song of the album, Ready to Die is a rap concerning how Biggie is ready to die at the hands of his enemies. This is the first song that you hear Diddy in the album, often lurking around in between Biggie's lines. 4/5
7. One More Chance: A big single from the album, this song is about how The Notorious BIG has a whole ton of girlfriends and how he is a great lover to the ladies. This song is your typical boasting rap, and it is perhaps my least favorite track in the album despite its success. 3/5
8. #!*@ Me: This interlude is kind of pointless since no one wants to hear Biggie doing his thing with a girl. If you plan to listen to this album, I recommend that you skip it. No rating
9. The What: This is the only song on the album to feature any other rapper, and it's the critically acclaimed Method Man from Wu-Tang Clan. This is a great song, and Method Man and Biggie work well together as a duo (not as good as Method Man with Redman though). 5/5
10. Juicy: If you don't know Juicy, then you must be completely oblivious of music in the last 20 years. Juicy is perhaps the most famous song from the album, and it is one of the Biggie's most iconic songs. It is a song about Biggie's dreams of success, and how his life as been getting better with his rap career. This song is in numerous movies, and it is very recognizable from its first few words: "It was all a dream". 5/5
11. Everyday Struggle: A great follow-up to Juicy, Everyday Struggle tells of how life is a struggle for Biggie and how he has lost friends on the way. 5/5
12. Me and My B*tch: An unusual love ballad, this track describes one of biggie's more sentimental relationships. Even though he and his girl argue, she is his best friend and she was always there for him. In the tracks end, sadly, she is killed, and Biggie mourns her loss. Despite the love, it's a little strange how he refers to her as his "b*tch".
13. Big Poppa: THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME. This song was his best-selling single, and it is definitive song of his style along with Juicy. It is a great song for clubs, and it's popular even today. 5/5
14. Respect: Respect is a narrative made by Biggie about his life. You can say that it goes into even more detail than the Intro did as Biggie guides you through his life with his descriptive words. This song has a very Jamaican sound, a representation of Biggie's Jamaican heritage. Ignore the last 50 seconds, for this where the song goes off on a tangent with another Biggie/girl situation as the interlude did. If it wasn't for that, this song be perfect. 4/5
15. Friend of Mine: this one of my favorite songs to jam to. It is another boast rap, and it discusses Biggie's relations with his girls. I've always imagined this song playing in a chase scene for some reason. 5/5
16. Unbelievable: With a Michael Jackson sample, Unbelievable has a great beat. It might not have been the most memorable track for me, but it is still a good song. 4.5/5
17. Suicidal Thoughts: This is the song that critics often praise because it gives the listener a very dark side of Biggie. He narrates his own death, a suicide. He tells of how he knows that he is scum, and how no one will miss him. The album opened with him being born, and it seemingly ends with his suicide, but last track comes afterwords. 5/5
18. Just Playing (Dreams): This song, as the title says, gives the listener relief after he/she has just witnessed Biggie's death. Its a decent song, but its not too memorable. 4/5
This album is excellent, and any hip-hop fan should listen to it. As a side note, the remaster of this album also includes the infamous song Who Shot Ya. This is the song that 2Pac claimed was about him, igniting the East-West Coast feud that would take their lives only a few years later.