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KMA2757 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.

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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