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Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (2cd)

Released only 16 days after he died (RIP), this classic has collaborations with 112, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Too $hort, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., R. Kelly, The LOX and Puff Daddy. Brilliant.

Top Ten Favourite Rap Groups

Kudos to you if you clicked on this one! I know a bunch of you are dyed in the wool rawkers, so the hip hop may not do much for you. But I’ve got a real melting pot going on around here, and rap is just another of the components of my complete breakfast, so for me a post like this ain’t much of a surprise.

I know what I like when I hear it, and I was idling wondering if I could make a Top Ten artists list. Sure I can!

Now, I know that these are tricky waters. Some will say “where is Public Enemy, or Run-DMC, or Grandmaster Flash…” or any of the other classics. Or there’ll be newer artists or whole genres of hip hop I’ve skipped, etc etc. Well, those are surely great too. But this is my list of what I would choose to put on, when the mood moves me. Many were considered. And so it goes.

Alright, here we go:

1 The Roots
2 Wu-Tang Clan
3 Beastie Boys
4 Jurassic 5
5 A Tribe Called Quest
6 US3
7 Common
8 Mos Def
9 2Pac
10 Notorious B.I.G

Bonus Round!

11 Honourable mention goes to: Eminem*

12 The artist I most need to get to (but haven’t yet): Talib Kweli**

13 The new artist I most want to try: Kendrick Lamar***

14 The one I should probably include but I just don’t feel it when I hear him: Jay-Z****

* Eminem has a lot to say, and he pulls no punches. But I can’t do his anger all the time, so he doesn’t hit my 10 list because sometimes he just makes me tired.

**And by extension, since I’ve already included Mos Def, I should also get to Black Star.

*** I have no idea if this is a wise decision, his is just a name that keeps coming up.

**** This is probably an unpopular choice, but so what. I don’t dig Jay-Z enough. Go make your own list.

In Sum:

Based on that Top Ten list, you can tell I like it when rappers have something to say, and I like it jazzier and with a sense of fun. I don’t have any time for violence for the sake of violence, which is why 2Pac and Biggie sit at the bottom of the list – only about half of their stuff is brilliant for me. I also have zero time for a lot of the empty, plastic, boastful rap that seems to be popular ad nauseum.

What are your faves? Do you agree with this list? Disagree? Are you ambivalent?


My list is a total sausagefest, so if anybody can recommend any great lady rappers that might fit my likes, drop a comment!

Do you have suggestions for any other acts I need to check out? Let me know!

Series – Greatest Hits: Notorious B.I.G.

I’m no expert, when it comes to this artist’s output, but I’ve heard enough to know he was one of the smoothest, most exciting rappers in the game.

This mix is a bit of a misnomer. It is a greatest hits, of sorts, with songs like the monster Juicy and One More Chance/Stay With Me and F@*k You Tonight here and worth every second. However, let’s get through the problems with it first:

1) There are glaring omissions. Even for a single disc Hits set of this guy’s work, where in hell is Mo Money Mo Problems? I’ll Be Missing You? Goin’ Back To Cali? Sky’s The Limit? I could go on. This could have been a 2CD set, easily.

2) Several of the songs here were posthumous, and seem more like a chance to get Eminem and Nelly on the disc – as if they needed help selling the album. I can see the argument that maybe they were trying to represent stuff heard while he was alive and after, but for a 1-CD set with 17 songs, it just feels a bit disjointed, slap-dash, a bit all over the map.

Actually, come to think of it, it’s only 15 songs because of the two new songs here too, Running Your Mouth and Want That Old Thing Back, which only stengthens the argument.

3) This wasn’t put out until ten years after his death. 10 years! Too long. Far too long.

And now, the things I did like about it:

It’s Biggie. So you know what you’re getting. That voice, like no other, big and warm and roomy. That smooth and genius flow, which I always equated with a paraphrasing of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic song, in that it’s “built for comfort, not built for speed.” Even when he raps faster, it still feels like a Cadillac.  Absolutely soulful grooves and stories to tell.

Even the humour, like in Big Poppa where he rhymes “throw your hands in the ay-er / like you a true play-er,” (oh man) and “cause I see some ladies tonight who should be havin’ my baby” cracks me up every time. On the flip side, there’s real violence in songs like Who Shot Ya (among others), which just reflects the life too.

These are big and easy beats, with great rapping over the top. You knew it would be. But may I be about the millionth person who says just go buy Ready To Die and Life After Death. This hits set would only fill in a couple of gaps, after that.

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