It’s easy to get lost in the mystique of Biggie Smalls, AKA The Notorious B.I.G. An icon of the genre and one of hip-hop’s pioneering pantheon members, Big always delivered heavyweight tunes that not only spoke of the streets but made them all bop their heads in unison. One such song is ‘Hypnotize’ a track that will forever be embedded in Biggie’s legacy. A legacy forever tarnished by his tragic death.
Diddy, who famously signed Biggie to his label Bad Boy Records in 1993, perfectly summarised his talents when inducting the iconic rapper into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Big just wanted to be biggest, he wanted to be the best, he wanted to have influence and impact people in a positive way, and that clearly has been done all over the world.”
Adding: “Nobody has come close to the way Biggie sounds, to the way he raps, to the frequency that he hits. Tonight we are inducting the greatest rapper of all time into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Notorious B.I.G. representing Brooklyn, New York, we up in here.”
While his feud with Tupac Shakur will always be a part of Biggie’s life and his sad death, the truth about Notorious B.I.G. was that he is an icon because of his work on the mic not his actions off it. One such song to perfectly capture that sentiment is ‘Hypnotize’.
‘Hypnotize’ was released just a week before Biggie’s death and became just the fifth track to reach number one in the charts posthumously. The track is a magical effort that is unarguably one of the definitive Biggie Smalls efforts and encapsulates everything about his larger than life character in one song.
Diddy sampled the music from Herb Alpert’s 1979 hit ‘Rise’, which was written by Andy Armer and Herb’s nephew, Randy Badazz Alpert, later recalled: “I asked Puffy, in 1996 when he first called me concerning using ‘Rise’ for ‘Hypnotize,’ why he chose the ‘Rise’ groove. He told me that in the summer of 1979 when he was I think ten years old the song was a huge hit everywhere in New York and ‘Rise’ along with Chic’s ‘Good Times’ were ‘The Songs’ that all the kids were dancing and roller skating to that summer. He had always remembered that summer and that song. When he first played the loop for Biggie, Biggie smiled and hugged him.”
Below, however, we’re stripping the song of those beats and listening to Biggie Smalls’ studio acapella track for his classic song ‘Hypnotize’.