Notorious B.I.G. died fifteen years ago this week, on March 9, 1997, at age 24, and Ready to Die is the only studio album released during his lifetime. (Life After Death was released fifteen days after his death, on March 25, 1997.) But Ready to Die album contained hits that were rap-wise, ahead of his time, and, from a content perspective, put the East Coast back at the forefront of lyricism. Ready to Die was released on September 13, 1994, on Bad Boy Records -- the label was Puff Daddy's venture after being ousted from Uptown Records -- and Biggie dominated the game with his dark and husky rap flow.
"Gimme the Loot" accurately describes a life of crime, down to hilarious lines like "I've been robbing motherfuckers since the slave ship." Biggie infuses the track with humor and paranoia all at the same time. The remix of "One More Chance" is still the smoothest track you can play at any party, club, basement, or otherwise, and the Grammy-nominated "Big Poppa" became Biggie's almost-sex symbol anthem.
Hailed as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, the album was radio-friendly, yet underground-sounding enough that it played well within the masses. Very few releases since have touched the intricate tales of street life of a hustler from Brooklyn.
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