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The Story Behind The Sample: Biggie Smalls' anthem 'Juicy'

The Notorious B.I.G. was the best-selling hip hop artist of the 1990s, and it’s easy to see why. From ‘Hypnotise’ to ‘Big Poppa’, the Brooklyn rapper made some epic rap anthems that live on to this day. As P Diddy’s prodigy, The Notorious B.I.G went from freestyling on Brooklyn street corners to ruling the charts and producing platinum hit records. Biggie was a quiet guy, and we rarely got to see how he made these songs. Exploring how the late rapper produced these songs is fascinating, and even the tiniest look behind the scenes of the hit factory that was Bad Boy Entertainment is enthralling.

One of B.I.G’s most well-known tracks is ‘Juicy’ from his 1994 album Ready To Die. Considered by many as one of the best hip hop tracks ever made, ‘Juicy’ was, in fact, a recreation of another track that already existed. However, the rapper wanted to put his own twist on the song.

‘Juicy’ was the lead single of Ready to Die, and, as such, Biggie knew it had to be something special. Produced by Poke of production duo the Trackmasters, alongside Diddy, Juicy has a number of elements that made it such a special track, and even Biggie’s cadences follow a similar pattern to the original track.

Produced and recorded in 1994, ‘Juicy’ samples the 1983 track by Mtume, ‘Juicy Fruit’. However, it samples the instrumental version. With regard to the track’s chorus, Biggie wanted the same melodic structure as the original. However, he wanted different lyrics, and for that reason, he wrote new lyrics and had both Diddy and the girl group Total sing the fresh one.

‘Juicy Fruit’ was an extremely popular track when it was first released in 1983, and although it did not chart very high on the Billboard Hot 100, it debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Although the song was not a nationwide hit in the US or UK, it was an extremely popular track with African-American and Black-British communities making it the perfect track for Biggie to sample for his 1994 rendition.

Biggie’s lyrical flow on ‘Juicy’ is clear-cut and details the story of his life before making it in the music industry. On the track, Biggie tells the tale of how he went from selling crack in Brooklyn to becoming a megastar and recalls all of his struggles and tribulations.

In the music video, we even see his mother, Jamaican immigrant Voletta Wallace, reading the July 1994 issue of The Source magazine. This edition features The Notorious B.I.G on the front. Although Biggie’s version was extremely well-received, it wasn’t praised by producer Pete Rock, who declared that ‘Juicy’ was his intellectual property.

According to Rock, he showed Diddy a beat that was identical to the instrumental of ‘Juicy’ shortly before the track was released and alleged that Diddy recreated his track, thereby stealing his idea.

in an interview with Wax Poetics. “They came to my house, heard the beat going on the drum machine, it’s the same story. You come downstairs at my crib, you hear music. Diddy heard that sh*t, and the next thing you know, it comes out,” he continued. “They had me do a remix, but I tell people, and I will fight it to the end, that I did the original version of that. I’m not mad at anybody, I just want the correct credit.”

Juicy is a classic and a fantastic hip hop track. you can watch the music video and hear the original sample just below.