Today in Hip-Hop: The Notorious B.I.G. Drops ‘Ready to Die’ Album
On this day, Sept. 13, in hip-hop history…
1994: A then vibrant 22-year-old lyrical prophet from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Christopher Wallace officially introduced himself to the world as The Notorious B.I.G., in the form of an one hour and nine minute album that would ultimately go on to become one of the most persuasive collections of rap records ever amassed.
Principally momentous in regards to the continued reaffirmation of the east coast’s standing as the proverbial trunk among the historic tree of hip-hop, alongside Nas’ Illmatic, which was released five months prior to Biggie's debut, Ready To Die would promptly develop into the primary lyrical representation of everyday life for an entire generation of urban rooted contemporaries.
First establishing a mystique through obscure demos and eventually the track "Party and Bullshit" in June of 1993, Biggie was a largely coveted presence forward of Ready To Die, with the hysteria influenced even greater by the colorful presence of his mentor, Sean 'Puffy" Combs. By the time Ready To Die was released, the hip-hop faithful was already primed with a conceivable significance of what was attainable within Biggie's inaugural release.
A storyteller in its finest fashion, Biggie was in a class of his own when it came to translating his familiar surroundings, struggle, derangement, and eagerness for accomplishment into an unblemished lyrical account. Ready To Die was the ultimate display of his capacity to narrate the bleak and commonplace tales of the streets and meticulously package it for both the familiar and unrelatable ear.
Covering a profound measure of personal subject matter throughout the album, Biggie shifts from presenting his individual battles with poverty and unsettling chaos (Everyday Struggle, Things Done Changed), to his intimate relationship with robbing and murdering (Gimme The Loot, Warning, Machine Gun Funk), his acknowledgment and acceptance of inevitable death (Ready To Die, Suicidal Thoughts), to his fondness and rapport with females (One More Chance, Friend Of Mine, Me & My Bitch), all the way to simply just flexing his lyrical muscle (Unbelievable, The What), and ultimately shining on the feel good, desire for fulfillment tracks of the album (Juicy, Big Poppa).
One of only a handful of albums in the history of XXL Magazine to be honored with a perfect "XXL" rating, Ready To Die debuted and peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200, with three of its singles attaining recognition on the Billboard Hot 100, two of which acquired top ten rankings ("One More Chance" and "Big Poppa"). Featuring nine different producers including Puffy, Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premier, and Lord Finesse, Ready To Die eventually gathered one Grammy nomination, and remarkably obtained quadruple platinum in sales.
Ready To Die's greatest achievement is that while it certainly maintains status as one of the most powerful and decisive East Coast albums of all-time, it has simultaneously eclipsed regional borders in its impact and influence. Even in death, Notorious B.I.G.'s music has transcended generations, altered the subsequent sound of the genre, and will continue to ascend atop the totem pole of rap's most iconic albums ever conceived.
23 years ago today, the Black Frank White told you himself, and more than two decades later it still rings true. --Biggie Smalls is the illest.- Michael Blair
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