Album Of The Week: 'Life After Death' by The Notorious B.I.G
The legend of Big was cemented in his double-disc sophomore opus, Life After Death, released just 16 days after his death on March 25, 1997. Grief accompanied the anticipation for the long awaited follow-up to his classic 1994 debut 'Ready to Die'. The experience of listening to the album was sad, as it dawns on us as listeners that we may have just lost the best to ever to marry his lyrical capability with the ability to captivate our imaginations.
"By the time Ready to Die hit, B.I.G. seemed to effortlessly connect with audiences by being relatable (“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine”), inspirational (“I made the change from a common thief / to up close and personal with Robin Leach”), or charming (“However, living better now / Coogi sweater now / Drop top BM’s, I’m the man girlfriend”). Cocky enough to frequently reference his optical disadvantages, his lyrical ability alone helped his transition from Biggie Smalls to the Notorious B.I.G. to Big Poppa in his ascension to the top of the Billboard charts." - (March 24, 2017)
Life After Death feels more deliberate, more methodical than 'Ready To Die'. Recorded over 18 months in New York, Los Angeles, and Trinidad, this album is the eeriest disc yet in the booming subgenre of posthumous rap records. Every other rhyme is spookily prophetic and is clearly a thousand different ideas crammed onto two compact discs.
The album begins where Ready to Die’s final track, “Suicidal Thoughts”, left off: Big turning his pistol on himself while a desperate Combs helplessly listens from the other end of a phone line. Biggie took storytelling into a different realm with his vivid crime sagas “Niggas Bleed” and the Buckwild produced “I Got a Story to Tell”. He boasts of being the best with battle lyrics in DJ Premier’s “Kick in the Door”, and sits comfortably in his braggadocios sexcapades in “Nasty Girls” and with his protégé Lil’ Kim in “Another.” Another smash hit was “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”, a cruise back in time to the Saturday night fever of New York’s ‘70s disco scene.
"Christopher Wallace was a somebody in life, though. He was The Notorious B.I.G. Leader of New York hip-hop. Disciple of Big Daddy Kane. Brooklyn’s finest who climbed the highest peaks of rap stardom. Life After Death is as much a celebration of all that as it is a grim meditation on mortality."
by Tomisin Akins