The Notorious B.I.G. did more than just deliver a magnum opus with 1994's Ready to Die. He scribed a story that would be shared by millions. Reared by a world of violence and paranoia found on the harrowing streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn—226 St. James Place, to be exact—the former drug dealer turned rhyme-slinger would channel his gripes and frustrations into an album that chronicled his life's journey to that point.

From the menacing greed of "Gimme the Loot," to the raw vulnerability of the title track and the soul-draining bleakness of "Everyday Struggle," Biggie's extolled debut hinted that not another MC could fill his Timbos. Posing a double threat by perfectly tying together its hardcore, grungy street joints ("Warning," "The What") with polished commercial-ready records ("Juicy," "Big Poppa"), Ready to Die went on to impressive sales while making a star out of Biggie Smalls.

As the album nears its 19th anniversary and XXL continues to celebrate the life of the fallen MC, we went back and broke down B.I.G.'s debut album by the numbers. If you don't know, know you know... —Ralph Bristout (@XXLRalph)


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