It seems crazy that 15 years has passed in the world of hip-hop since Christopher Wallace (best known as The Notorious B.I.G.) was gunned down in the streets of Los Angeles. As time moves on, the impact of Biggie’s music has become more and more profound, whilst the quality remains timeless. His vernacular was unmistakable, fusing lyrical imagination with lucid eloquence. His sexual lustings were unashamedly crude. His flow was lazy but sleek. He candidly married dark narratives with a tenacious sense of humour. Yet all of these elements underpin the real magic that makes Biggie Smalls an undisputed king of hip-hop. Simply put, he had this genius ability to tell stories that engulf you, without asking for permission.
For me, it’s also the disparaging contrasts you find in his music that makes him such an interesting artist. His comedic prowess lurked beside haunting themes of paranoia and his own death. He was a conscientious crook, a mobster with a diamond-encrusted moral compass (“if the game shakes me or breaks me, I hope it makes me a better man, take a better stand, put money in my mom’s hand”). Finally, he was a private school kid. He could have lived a relatively comfortable life, but took a perilous path instead, that sadly led to his own demise.
MTV voted Biggie the “most skillful rapper ever on the mic”, and that’s something which we find impossible to refute.
In a tribute to the “black Frank White“, marking what would be his 41st birthday, we’ve collated seven of our favourites that you may not have ever encountered. Every one of these tracks is a masterpiece, so simply sit back and enjoy the poetic brilliance of such a unique artist. For all you Soundcloud junkies, we’ve also done the same over there.