Biggie Small’s rhymes and rhythms illuminated the world of hip-hop, asserting personality and colour into the purely irresistible genre that was bubbling under the surface. Biggie’s music had a charm to it that made your favourite rapper fall in love with the world of hip hop.
When the news of Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G.‘s death, hit the airwaves, it left an entire generation of fans stunned into silence. Biggie’s impact on the growth of hip hop is immeasurable, and, in 1997, he was perhaps the brightest light in the world, proving to transcend culturally and genre divides at ease. A week before his death, Big would release arguably one of his best songs, ‘Hypnotize’.
‘Hypnotize’ became just the fifth track to reach number one in the charts posthumously following the tragic murder of Biggie, aka Christopher Wallace. The track is a magical effort that is unarguably one of the classic Biggie Smalls songs. Its tireless beat and enviable flow encapsulate 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.”
Badazz later confirmed that it wasn’t only Biggie who wanted to use the beat: “Over the years I was approached by Ice Cube, Easy E, Vanilla Ice, and maybe another 4-5 artists to use the song and I never said yes until I heard a rough version of Biggie’s recording. I was sent a cassette from Puffy, and when I cranked it up, I not only immediately loved it, but my gut thought that this could be a number one record once again. The original ‘Rise’ record climbed the chart all summer and became number one around the end of October. Biggie’s version was released and charted its first week at number two and went to number one the second week.”
The nephew of Alpert also revealed that Biggie wrote the raps for all of the parts of the song, including the female leads: “When I first met Biggie before they recorded ‘Hypnotize’, he played me a demo version with him doing the girl’s part. I still have that cassette demo, and it’s definitely a classic piece of rap history.”
The song will go down as a crucial part of Biggie’s legacy for another reason too. As the funeral procession for the hip hop legend made its way through the streets of his native Brooklyn, a nightclub blasted ‘Hypnotize’ through its speakers at full volume. Rather than be insulted, those within the procession began dancing and rejoicing to the track, turning it into a celebration of Biggie’s imperious life.
Listen below to a hip hop legend, Biggie Smalls song ‘Hypnotize’.