On this, the 13th anniversary of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace’s death, it’s time to pay homage to one of the all-time great lyricists. Coming into this blog week of mine, I knew that the second day would have to focus on the legacy of Biggie Smalls—what kind of hip-hop site would this be if it didn’t. An off-point-to-say-the-least one, for starters.
The problem at hand, though, has been leagues beyond simple: How can one salute Biggie in a relatively unique manner? List my favorite B.I.G. verses? Tired. Imagine the ways in which the rap world would be different if Brooklyn’s finest was still alive? Purely speculative and impossible to nail. Recall where I was the first time I heard each of the legend’s singles? I was this close to writing that, but ultimately decided that it’d be both too personal and uninteresting to anyone not last-named Barone and from New Jersey.
Though, that third idea had a great deal of promise as it bounced around in my head. For me, like many others, I’m sure, it all began with three words: “Party and Bullshit.”
When I was in grade school, I was a rap cassette-buying fiend, before I became a teen. Tuesdays were release days, and I’d pay weekly visits to either Sam Goody or Nobody Beats The Wiz to drop earned-through-household-chores coin on whichever new tape I’d read about in a trusty rap magazine. Movie soundtracks were always the most exciting, presenting an opportunity to hear a murderer’s row of beloved artists all in one clip. My vote for Best Rap Soundtrack of All-Times goes to Sunset Park (1996), which, truthfully, deserves its own blog post one day. Of course, there was also the great two-volume New Jersey Drive (1995), to satiate home-state pride.
For today, however, I’d like to focus on the soundtrack to the quite-bad Ed Lover and Doctor Dre comedy Who’s the Man? (1993). It’s true, House of Pain contributed a real highlight, the sinister title track, and the R&B jams were superlative, from Jodeci’s “Let’s Go Through the Motions” to “Mary J. Blige’s sublime “You Don’t Have to Worry.” Yet, the soundtrack’s crown jewel is its opening track, “Party and Bullshit,” courtesy of a then-unknown Notorious B.I.G. Man, what a gut-kick that record was the first time I inserted the Who’s the Man? tape into the Walkman. I’d never heard the guttural-flowed MC’s voice before, but the way he simultaneously shocked and awed was, for lack of a less-hokey word, unforgettable.
Before the 20-second mark hit, the immortal call-to-arms had run its course: “I was a terror since the public school era/Bathroom passes, cuttin’ classes, squeezin’ asses.” My days at St. Catharine’s Interparochial Elementary School were spent doing far less controversial things (unless you consider allowing my friends to cheat off my math tests to be provocative), but I still felt the ferocity in his words.
“Party and Bullshit” alone makes Who’s the Man? a classic movie companion in my book. So, with that immortal Track Number One in mind, I’ve compiled a few other favorite cuts from hip-hop soundtracks. This is completely random in order, but streamlined through one philosophical guideline: each song posted here holds a special, undying place in my rap-adoring heart. Once you’ve checked all of mine out, flood the comments section with your own personal favorite soundtrack cuts. —Matt Barone
O.C. & Organized Konfusion “You Won’t Go Far” (New Jersey Drive Vol. 2, 1995)
***NOTE: Damn, if this isn’t one of the hardest songs ever***
OutKast “Benz or Beamer” (New Jersey Drive Vol. 1, 1995)