Looking back through the annals of hip hop history, it is easy to land on central figures who have indisputably changed the game. Whether your preference for peerage is Eazy E or Rakim, there can be no doubt that without The Notorious B.I.G., AKA Biggie Smalls, hip hop would be absolutely nowhere near the level it is today.
One of the finest lyricists the rap world has ever known, Big’s really impressive trick was that he seemingly delivered line after complex line of sensational rhymes without so much as breaking a sweat. There’s no better moment to capture his essential skills in his all-too-short career than his iconic debut album, Ready to Die.
An expert at determining flow and delivering killer punchlines, BIG always operated on an upper echelon that few could match. His debut album Ready to Die acknowledged the past; it was a seizing of the present that surrounded the rapper and a proclamation of the future. It is arguably the very moment Christopher Wallace became unstoppably notorious.
Wallace had spent much of his life “waking up every morning, hustling, cutting school, looking out for my moms, the police, stickup kids; just risking my life every day on the street selling drugs,” something he confirmed to Rolling Stone. Throughout the record, he showcases that life and proves why it will soon be a matter of history to him as hip hop legend status awaited him.
His classic vocals are accurately mixed with dry humour, searing wit and the kind of flow that makes rivers blush. If you ever needed a lesson on the purest measures of hip hop, then take a double shot of Ready to Die and talk to us in the morning. The hangover you’ll wake up with is the stuff of legends.
Ready to Die wasn’t just a debut album that would turn Notorious B.I.G. into a global superstar, but it is now revered as one of the turning points in musical history. Without this album, there is a plethora of your favourite artists who would still be copying LL Cool J.
Listen below and get a lesson in the dark arts of hip hop majesty.