“When I die I wanna go to hell, ‘cause I’m a piece of shit it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell” is a line that we can all relate to at some point, feeling the lowest of the low, you can feel the pain that’s built up on Biggie’s chest, thinking his mom would’ve rather gotten an abortion – wondering if anyone would truly miss him if he died. The ending to this song is the most powerful, when Biggie says “I’m sick of talkin’,” and you hear a gunshot. Definitely the most emotionally powerful song from Biggie.
9. The What
This is a perfect example of how rappers used to record, versus how they record today. That last bar of Biggie’s first verse – “don’t tempt M.E.,” where Method Man finishes “T.H.O.D. man” – just couldn’t happen today. You have rappers and producers dumping everything in their dropboxes and expecting it to turn out alright. The energy and chemistry that Meth and B.I.G. bring to the track makes it what it is; there’s a reason Method Man is the only featured rapper on Ready to Die.
8. I Love the Dough
BROOKLYN STYLE BABY, BROOKLYN STYLE!
There's a lot of debate over Big’s era of glitzy, heavily produced tracks that were mostly pushed by Diddy - the writing being less aggressive and honest, the beats less raw and threatening. However, the opening keyboard to this grandiose, celebratory cut off Life After Death stands out. The shimmering instrumental and crispy drums straight out of the golden era of 90’s hip-hop is nothing but saucy, and Big’s flow here is snappy and rhythmic, keeping in time with the slick funk sound.
First of all the FUCKIN’ BEAT at the beginning of this tune, fucking PIMP anthem. Basically MADE Coogi a mainstream thing (“every cutie wit a booty bought a Coogi”) and wore Coogi sweaters in some of his most famous photographs. To be honest, some guy catcalling me used this line because I was wearing a Coogi sweater in NYC recently – so it’s obviously still very relevant.
6. Dead Wrong
I'm not the biggest Eminem fan, but paired up against Biggie he holds his own frighteningly well. The dramatic instrumental slaps in the background with threatening intensity, and the flow coming from both heavy hitters is among their most aggressive. His normally collected, smooth cadence takes a turn for characteristically vicious barking, and the lyric content is sick, twisted and dark. “When i get dusted i spread the blood like mustard” - Among his top tracks to get hype to for sure.
5. Everyday Struggle
Another classic song off Ready to Die. So many lines that get stuck in your head… the hook, ‘GED wasn’t BIG’, the line where he rhymes Two-TECs with itself three times. Plus the Bluez Brothers made a fucking perfect beat for this one.
4. Sky's the Limit
Truly one of the most uplifting tracks to come out of the hip hop world, a rags to riches story about growing up in the hood and then eventually using what you create to help those around you. The hook by 112 really adds the soul that makes this what it is.
3. You're Nobody
This is the final song on Life After Death (released after Big was killed) is eerie as fuck, considering after Biggie was shot his album hit the top of charts and his fame began to drastically rise. It was a play on the song “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and others. This song has also been redone by current artists like Rick Ross.
2. Kick in the Door
Why’d they go and hide one of the greatest rap songs behind one of the worst rap skits of all time? The Madd Rapper’s great, but I just wanna hear Biggie. When he comes in, he doesn’t disappoint. The line, “Keep extra clips for extra shit/Who’s next to flip on that cat with the grip on rap,” always stands out to me as B.I.G. showing that you don’t need to be a ‘spiritual lyrical miracle’ to have incredibly potent rhymes. Not a single word is out place. When you’re talking about the best diss tracks ever made, don’t forget this one. And that sample? God damn.