Firstly, this album is a classic. From the “Intro”, detailed with samples of “Rapper’s Delight”, Curtis Mayfield and “Tha Shiznit”. It paints a blurry picture of what to expect from the debut album from the Brooklyn rapper.
Throughout the album, there are multiple topics repeated and rapped about by Biggie Smalls. On the track “One More Chance“, he describes the sexual relations he’s having with other woman. The introduction to the track with the voicemails of jealous females also shows how devious they are that he can only be one of theirs, however, while they think they only one of them is made for B.I.G., he wants them all. The minimal keys, the dark-edgy synth and the smooth drum percussions also provide Biggie with an instrumental that allows him to flow effortlessly and contradict the dark beat produced by Chucky Thomspon, Bluez Brothers and Diddy.
One of the more conscious tracks on the album is “Things Done Changed“, which sees Biggie looking back on the days he would be dealing drugs, coming up as a rapper who originally used to battle-rap in the street, tensions between gangs and how kids those days would be influenced by the gang culture.
In my opinion, the most aggressive track on the album has to be “Gimme the Loot“. Swirling synths, sporadic DJ scratches, schizophrenic verses from the blunt-puffing rapper detail how he would “slam n*ggas like Shaq” and that he’s “crazier than a bag of angel dust” in order to get the loot. It is also a demonstration of how well Biggie can pitch his voice to make himself sound more menacing and play the role of the gangster he lived before fame.
A more laid-back, jazzier sound is on “Warning“. While the track depicts a Scarface themed lyrics, which Biggie is the head of a drug cartel. It details the paranoia that a dealer would have to endure and the measures they’d have to go to keep themselves protected. This is one of the best examples of Biggie’s ability to rap on smooth and crispier production and able to make a more gangster Boom-Bap Hip-Hop track than one like his more popular “Juicy“.
Obviously, there are other standout tracks on the album. From “Machine Gun Funk” to the self-titled track and “Everyday Struggle“. However, the real show stealers have to be “Me and My Bitch“, which is a grizzly story of a relationship destroyed by drugs and what should have been the last track, “Suicidal Thoughts” which is one of the best story-telling tracks on the album. It shows remorse of Biggie’s decisions he made while growing up, how rather leaving this world for a white suit-paradise, he’d be more content with “black Timbs and black hoodies”.
In all, it is one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums to ever be released. It’s raw instrumentals and Notorious’ hazy flows are the selling points of this album. It’s a clear vision of how lyrical the young Brooklyn rapper was as well as the greatness and accolades that followed his tragic passing.
REST IN PARADISE