Posts Tagged ‘biggie smalls’

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June & July 2021 Music Ratings

August 16, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Dave – We’re All Alone In This Together

Ratings:

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended
5 – Decent
4 – Lackluster

3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Trash

Top 25 Albums from June 1st to July 31st

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021.

*indicates June/July 2021 release

  1. *Dave – We’re All Alone In This Together
  2. J.Cole – The Off-Season
  3. *Tyler, The Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
  4. *LLoyd Banks – The Course of the Inevitable
  5. *Evidence – Unlearning, Vol. 1
  6. DMX – Exodus
  7. *Vince Staples – Vince Staples
  8. Scarface – My Homies (1998)
  9. Kool G Rap – Return of the Don (2017)
  10. *HRSMN (Canibus, Kurupt, Killah Priest, Ras Kass) – The Last Ride
  11. *Isaiah Rashad – The House is Burning
  12. BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE
  13. *King Blitz – THINGS NEVER GO AS PLANNED
  14. Yelawolf & DJ Muggs – Mile Zero
  15. *H.E.R. – Back of My Mind
  16. *IDK – USEE4YOURSELF
  17. Kool G Rap – Riches, Royalty & Respect (2011)
  18. Kool G Rap – The Giancana Story (2002)
  19. *Smoke DZA – The Hustler’s Catalog 2
  20. *Sy Ari Da Kid – Sy Ari Not Sorry
  21. Kool G Rap – Roots of Evil (1998)
  22. Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
  23. *Emotional Oranges – The Juicebox
  24. Kool G Rap – Live and Let Die (1992)
  25. Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Comments: Recent albums that are absolutely must listens: J. Cole, Tyler the Creator, Isaiah Rashad, and I think Dave just dropped the 2021 Album of the Year so far.

The 25 Artists I Listened To the Most in June & July

  1. Kool G Rap
  2. Scarface
  3. Dave
  4. J. Cole
  5. Yelawolf
  6. Tyler, The Creator
  7. Lloyd Banks
  8. Evidence
  9. Benny the Butcher
  10. Vince Staples
  11. DMX
  12. Wu-Tang Clan
  13. Isaiah Rashad
  14. Kanye West
  15. Ransom
  16. Lana Del Rey
  17. Eminem
  18. HRSMN
  19. Sa-Roc
  20. BROCKHAMPTON
  21. H.E.R.
  22. King Blitz
  23. Pop Smoke
  24. IDK
  25. Smoke DZA
  26. Sy Ari Da Kid

Comments: My biggest focus over the past couple months was going through the discographies of a couple of hip-hop legends: Kool G Rap and Scarface. I’ve always been a casual fan of KGR, but I have to admit I’ve never really dug into his music too much and it’s hard to have a valid opinion on someone’s place in hip-hop history if you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Old school heads love to put G Rap in their top 20 so not being able to debate that claim intelligently is something I felt like I needed to fix. After listening to basically every project he’s ever made, I think KGR is a great rapper that deserves more credit from the current generation, but I’m not really seeing someone I’d seriously consider for my top 20. He’s vocally nice and lyrically great, but I wasn’t blown away by his discography – it just doesn’t have the versatility or emotional depth I’d like to see from someone I’d consider in my all-time favorites. Scarface, on the other hand, is a fringe top 10 rapper of all-time. His discog is amazing and he’s someone that has evolved with the times and was still completely relevant as recently as the mid-to-late 2010s. The Fix is an absolute masterpiece of a rap album. Every song is a pure banger. It really looked like Covid and the pandemic might take Scarface away from us, but he fought through it and survived and hopefully he will bless us with more great music eventually.

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

You can click the link above to see my most recent additions to either playlist, but I’m not going to list them here because it’s the middle of June and I don’t which songs I added in May and which ones I’ve added in June, so I’ll just post them all in my next writeup.





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The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994)

July 27, 2021

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Release Date: September 13th, 1994

Song Rating Scale

  1. Intro – N/A
  2. Things Done Changed – 3.75
  3. Gimme the Loot – 4
  4. Machine Gun Funk – 4
  5. Warning – 4
  6. Ready to Die – 4
  7. One More Chance – 4.25
  8. Fuck Me (Interlude) – N/A
  9. The What (feat. Method Man) – 4.5
  10. Juicy – 5
  11. Everyday Struggle – 5
  12. Me & My Bitch – 3
  13. Big Poppa – 5
  14. Respect – 3.5
  15. Friend of Mine – 3.75
  16. Unbelievable – 4
  17. Suicidal Thoughts – 3.75
  18. Who Shot Ya? (Bonus) – 4.5
  19. Just Playing (Dreams) (Bonus) – 4.25
  20. One More Chance (Remix) (Bonus) – 4.5

Spin Rate: heaps
Average Song Rating: 4.1/5
3.5+ Percentage: 93%
Skips: 0.5
Bangers: 10

Thoughts: This album is an all-time classic and the debut project of one of the best rappers to ever pick up a microphone. I have to admit I didn’t appreciate this album when it originally came out – I was 12 years old and my musical preference was transitioning to grunge, alternative and metal at this time and even when I did start to get back into rap music, I was a Tupac fanboy and since I was an ignorant and easily influenced 14 year old, that meant I hated Biggie.

Over the years (and decades) though, Ready to Die has become one of my favorite albums of all-time and the data here supports that claim. With an average song rating of 4.1, Ready to Die now has the highest average song rating of any full length album I’ve posted a review for using this system. No surprise there. “Juicy,” “Everyday Struggle,” and “Big Poppa” are absolutely perfect songs. The only song I even think about skipping on this project is “Me & My Bitch” – it’s not bad, but i don’t think it’s good either. Also, this album has 10 bangers in 15 songs and I wouldn’t blame anyone for suggesting I underrated a few other songs here.

I don’t include bonus tracks as part of my overall rating or in my number of bangers since they aren’t really meant to be part of the album, but it’s worth noting that all three 1994 era Biggie tracks that I tacked on to the end of this album are all fire and would only improve Ready to Die’s already lofty esteem.

I think perhaps the most impressive aspect of this album is that Biggie is not a polished rapper here. When he was recording Ready to Die, Biggie was more of a crack dealer than a hip-hop artist. This was his side gig and it sounds like this? Good grief. This is why people don’t hesitate to list Biggie in their top 10s despite a limited discography due to his murder in March of 1997 – he had more natural ability than basically any rapper that has ever lived and the two albums he did record while he was alive are both legendary. It’s crazy to think what he would have accomplished in music if he was still alive today.

Verdict: 10/10 (Masterpiece)

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May 2021 Music Ratings

June 16, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

J. Cole – The Off-Season

Ratings:

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended
5 – Decent
4 – Lackluster

3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Trash

Top 20 Albums in May

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021.

*indicates May 2021 release

  1. *J. Cole – The Off-Season – 8+
  2. *Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti – 7+
  3. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06 (2015) – 7+
  4. Westside Boogie – Everythings For Sale (2019) – 8+
  5. *DMX – Exodus – 7+
  6. *Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter (Deluxe) – 8+
  7. *BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE – 7+
  8. *Benny the Butcher & 38 Spesh – Trust the Sopranos – 6+
  9. Eminem – Kamikaze (2018) – 6+
  10. Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet [17] – 6+
  11. Mac Miller – Faces (2014)
  12. *DJ Khaled – Khaled Khaled
  13. JID – The Never Story (2017)
  14. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+
  15. Yelawolf – Mud Mouth
  16. JID – Dicaprio 2 (2018)
  17. Toby Ganger – Free Machine – 8+
  18. Inverse – So Far (2008) – 7+
  19. Devin the Dude – Soulful Distance – 6+
  20. Guapdad 4000 – 1176
  21. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club [20] – 6+
  22. Mello Music Group – Bushido

Comments: Almost no holdovers from the previous month, as I continued to work older albums into my regular rotation. May belonged to J. Cole though. I listened to his new album so much already that he went from unranked in my top 25 most listened to artists of 2021 to #1 on the list below. I’m a big fan of the album. I think every song is good. I can’t say I had high expectations for a new DMX album since he hasn’t made good music for like 15 years now, but this new album is pretty damn good. Certainly anyone that’s been a loyal fan all this time will enjoy it and even those of us that abandoned ship long ago should give it a listen. The production is substantially better than on any of his most recent releases and while X is far from sounding in prime form, his vocals are improved. Plus he also has some stellar features on the album. Imagine Benny the Butcher going half a year without releasing a new project. I’m officially starting my JID and Vince Staples anticipation phase.

The 25 Artists I’ve Listened To the Most in 2021

  1. J. Cole [unranked]
  2. DMX [unranked]
  3. The Notorious B.I.G. [1]
  4. Benny the Butcher [5]
  5. Eminem [2]
  6. MF DOOM [4]
  7. MC Eiht [3]
  8. Sa-Roc [14]
  9. Conway the Machine [unranked]
  10. Mac Miller [25]
  11. Tash Sultana [8]
  12. Lana Del Rey [18]
  13. Tyrone’s Jacket [12]
  14. KOTA the Friend [15]
  15. Dua Lipa [13]
  16. Pink Sweat$ [unranked]
  17. Toby Ganger [unranked]
  18. Kali Uchis [23]
  19. Kendrick Lamar [unranked]
  20. Kid Cudi [6]
  21. Courtney Bell [7]
  22. Snoop Dogg [unranked]
  23. Scarface [unranked]
  24. Boldy James [9]
  25. Nyck Caution [10]

Comments: Since I last updated this two months ago, J. Cole released a new album and DMX passed away and then released a posthumous album so they went from outside my top 25 through March to my two most listened to artists of the year. Conway also got a similar bump thanks to yet another new project. I’ve been listening to a lot of TDE lately since all their artists are due to drop this summer. Almost all of them fell shy of my top 25 here, but Kendrick cracked the list and I expect him to keep climbing it, especially if his long overdue follow-up to 2017’s DAMN. finally drops.   

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

You can click the link above to see my most recent additions to either playlist, but I’m not going to list them here because it’s the middle of June and I don’t which songs I added in May and which ones I’ve added in June, so I’ll just post them all in my next writeup.





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April 2021 Music Ratings

May 2, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Conway the Machine – La Maquina


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in April (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates April 2021 release

  1. *Conway the Machine – La Maquina – 7+
  2. DMX – It’s Dark and Hell is Hot (1998) – 8
  3. DMX – …And Then There Was X (1999) – 7
  4. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003) – 8+
  5. Snoop Doggy Dogg – Tha Doggfather (1996)
  6. DMX – The Great Depression (2001) – 4+
  7. Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met 2 [3] – 7+
  8. DMX – Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood (1998) – 6
  9. *Kenny Mason – Angelic Hoodrat
  10. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
  11. *Saigon – Pain, Peace & Prosperity
  12. Black Coffee – Subconsciously
  13. Ghostface Killah – Ironman (1996)
  14. *KOTA The Friend – To Kill A Sunrise [14] – 7+
  15. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997) [1] – 9+
  16. Big L – Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (1995) – 7+
  17. Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet [9]
  18. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die (1994) [4] – 9+
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket [18] – 8
  20. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club [6] – 7
  21. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You [7]
  22. The Lox – Money, Power & Respect (1998)

Comments: This is the most I’ve distanced myself from new music since I started doing these monthly posts.  Obviously, I did a lot of reminiscing on DMX’s early discography as his life seemed to be in danger and then he ultimately passed away.  I gave DMX a pretty unfavorable write-up when I went through his whole recording career, but his peak was really strong and looking back at my ratings for his earliest albums, I think I was a bit unfair.  For all his flaws as a lyricist, he was a great songwriter and made very enjoyable music.

The 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In April

  1. DMX
  2. Conway the Machine
  3. Ghostface Killah
  4. Kendrick Lamar
  5. Snoop Dogg
  6. The Notorious B.I.G.
  7. Benny the Butcher
  8. 50 Cent
  9. Kenny Mason
  10. J. Cole
  11. Jay Rock
  12. Big L
  13. Kali Uchis
  14. Saigon
  15. Black Coffee
  16. Cordae
  17. Isaiah Rashad
  18. KOTA The Friend
  19. Pink Sweat$
  20. Ab-Soul

Comments: Snoop crept into my top 5 because I was re-listening to Tha Doggfather plus he dropped a new album last month (that didn’t crack my top 20 spins).  I also re-visited some early Ghostface Killah and 50 Cent while Biggie stayed in rotation from the past couple months.  It was recently announced that Top Dawg Entertainment will be breaking a very long dry spell by releasing new music on May 7th.  This is a label whose entire roster is basically years overdue for a new album.  I’m excited for all of them to drop, so I was listening to TDE releases heavy this past week and four of them ended up cracking my top 20 for the month, with Kendrick leading the way.  TDE season is upon us!   

Top 50 Artists All-Time (since August 2020)

Note: last all-time rank in parentheses

  1. Eminem (1)
  2. Benny the Butcher (2)
  3. MC Eiht (6)
  4. Conway the Machine (4)
  5. Lil Wayne (3)
  6. Che Noir (7)
  7. The Roots/Black Thought (5)
  8. Toby Ganger (16)
  9. Nas (10)
  10. Amine (9)
  11. Biggie (unranked)
  12. Sa-Roc (24)
  13. Spillage Village (8)
  14. MF DOOM (unranked)
  15. Recognize Ali/Dueling Experts (15)
  16. Dua Lipa (30)
  17. Jadakiss/The Lox (unranked)
  18. Ty Dolla $ign (12)
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket (44)
  20. Boldy James (29)
  21. Berner (11)
  22. Kid Cudi (46)
  23. Busta Rhymes (13)
  24. DMX (unranked)
  25. Flip Huston (19)
  26. The Weeknd (17)
  27. Lana Del Rey (unranked)
  28. R.A. the Rugged Man (18)
  29. 38 Spesh (14)
  30. Mac Miller (48)
  31. KOTA The Friend (unranked)
  32. Blu & Exile (22)
  33. Logic (21)
  34. Westside Gunn (26)
  35. Big Sean (20)
  36. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin (23)
  37. Jessie Ware (unranked)
  38. Scarface (unranked)
  39. Felt (25)
  40. Brother Ali (42)
  41. Pop Smoke (28)
  42. Freddie Gibbs (unranked)
  43. Nyck Caution (unranked)
  44. T.I. (27)
  45. Ransom (31)
  46. Reason (33)
  47. Kendrick Lamar (unranked)
  48. J. Cole (unranked)
  49. Phoebe Bridgers (32)
  50. Playboi Carti (unranked)

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

Ghetts (feat. Jaykae & Moonchild Sanelly), “Mozambique”
Pink Sweat$, “Not Alright”

Yep… I was sleeping on adding new bangers last month.





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March 2021 Music Ratings

April 1, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud – The Plugs I Met 2


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in March (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates February 2021 release

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997) – 9+ [unranked]
  2. Jadakiss – Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001) – 6+ [unranked]
  3. *Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met 2 – 7+
  4. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994) – 9+ [unranked]
  5. *Ghetts – Conflict of Interest – 6+
  6. *Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club – 6+
  7. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You – 6+ [unranked]
  8. Mos Def – Black On Both Sides (1999) – 8+ [unranked]
  9. *Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet – 6+
  10. Marlon Craft – How We Intended – 6+ [6]
  11. *Rod Wave – SoulFly
  12. Toby Ganger – Free Machine (Unreleased) – 8+ [20]
  13. JAY-Z – 4:44 (2017) – 8+ [unranked]
  14. *KOTA The Friend – To Kill A Sunrise
  15. Madison Beer – Life Support [11]
  16. *Robin Thicke – On Earth, and in Heaven
  17. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+ [1]
  18. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket – 8+ [unranked]
  19. Courtney Bell – Poverty Stricken – 7+ [4]
  20. Sheek Louch – Beast Mode, Vol. 4 [unranked]
  21. *slowthai – TYRON

The 25 Artists I’ve Listened To The Most In 2021

Notes: Last month I listened to a ton of Biggie. I haven’t been posting many album reviews, but I got them coming for both of Biggie’s albums. I have also been a long time Jadakiss nonbeliever and I’ll probably be giving him some extra attention in the near future because I either wanna prove myself right or start loving someone I’ve never given enough credit to. I pretty much have his first album reviewed – I just need to post it. I started playing live poker again this past week and that is going to drastically increase the amount of time I spend listening to music. Yesterday I listened to Scarface my whole session and that was good enough to almost get him into my top 10 for the year.

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. [unranked]
  2. Eminem [2]
  3. MC Eiht [1]
  4. MF DOOM [3]
  5. Benny the Butcher [unranked]
  6. Kid Cudi [4]
  7. Courtney Bell [6]
  8. Tash Sultana [13]
  9. Boldy James [5]
  10. Nyck Caution [11]
  11. Scarface [unranked]
  12. Tyrone’s Jacket [17]
  13. Dua Lipa [7]
  14. Sa-Roc [16]
  15. KOTA The Friend [unranked]
  16. Jadakiss [unranked]
  17. Toby Ganger [unranked]
  18. Lana Del Rey [unranked]
  19. Pharoahe Monch [19]
  20. Chris Stapleton [unranked]
  21. Marlon Craft [unranked]
  22. SZA [9]
  23. Kali Uchis [unranked]
  24. Freddie Gibbs [unranked]
  25. Mac Miller [14]

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

38 Spesh (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Stash Box”
Benny the Butcher (feat. 2 Chainz), “Plug Talk”
Courtney Bell, “Celebrate”
Elcamino (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Immunity”
Gukie, “Make It a Double”
KOTA the Friend, “Wolves”
Lil Tjay & 6LACK, “Calling My Phone”
Lucky Daye (feat. Mahalia), “My Window”
Masego (feat. JID & Rapsody), “Somethin’ Ain’t Right”
Nyck Caution (feat. KOTA the Friend & Erick the Architect), “Product Of My Environment”
Nyck Caution (feat. Joey Bada$$), “How You Live It”



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The Notorious B.I.G.

April 20, 2017

I’m going to start a new section on my blog that profiles notable hip-hop artists and grades them in all the important categories in an attempt to a) break down their resumes, b) highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and c) figure out where they stand on the all-time list. Initially I was going to make a post that counted down my top ten rappers of all-time, but I think this route is more realistic and encompassing – I can highlight one emcee at a time and probably try to make one post every two weeks or so, plus I can post about rappers that aren’t necessarily candidates for my Top 10. This will be different from my fluid 2016 Rapper Rankings, which is a breakdown of the current hip-hop scene only.

I decided to start with The Notorious B.I.G. because I could digest his entire catalog in a short time and he’s largely considered one of the best rappers to ever do it. Since this is my first post of this nature, I will explain each category I am using to evaluate hip-hop artists before grading Biggie in that particular element.

Legacy: How much of an impact did the artist have on hip-hop? What kind of imprint have they left on rap music? Where do they land among the all-time greats? Will they be remembered 20 years from now? Biggie obviously checks all the boxes here. Christopher Wallace died on March 9th, 1997 and released two studio albums during his career, both of which are largely considered hip-hop classics. Even though his peak was cut tragically short, Biggie is almost universally considered an all-time great and has been revered and referenced throughout hip-hop for the past 20+ years. A+

Consistency: Simply, how consistent was this emcee throughout their career? Did they continually put out high quality albums or were there some bumps along the road? In Biggie’s case, he died young, early in his career (he was 24!), and we’ll never know if he was already peaking or if he would have enjoyed the long career some of his notable peers (Nas, Jay-Z) have. Unfortunately, B.I.G. only released two albums, but they are both fantastic and he never disappointed. A+

Longevity: How long have they been making music? How long was their peak? How long have they been relevant? As previously noted, Biggie died young, so we’ll never know what he could have done, but from 1994 to 1997 he was unquestionably one of the premiere emcees in the game. R.I.P.

Lyrics: How strong was their pen game? We are talking about BARS only here. This category encompasses storytelling, cohesion, similes, metaphors, punchlines, cleverness, humor, bragging, battling, belittling, rhyme schemes, etc. Basically, how well could they write? Biggie wasn’t the most complex lyricist; in fact his writing style was actually pretty simple. However, his storytelling ability is legendary and he grades strong in the humor, bragging, and cleverness departments. A-

Songwriting: Not to be confused with lyrical ability, songwriting is something different… something that makes a hip-hop artist more of a complete package. I’m talking about their ability to craft good songs. Just because you can write good verses, doesn’t mean you can make good songs… or albums. This category includes which beats they decide to rap to; how well they write and execute hooks, choruses, and bridges; can they make catchy tunes? There is definitely a lyrical element to songwriting, but making good music is the focus here. Biggie was obviously a master songwriter – to this day, “Big Poppa,” “Juicy,” and “Hypnotize” are some of the most memorable hip-hop songs ever created. Even some of his lesser songs like “Nasty Boy” and “Playa Hater” are enjoyable because of B.I.G.’s ability to make catchy music. Biggie was able to switch gears as well as any rapper ever has been, fully capable of making completely grimy hip-hop and radio-friendly megahits. A+

Rapping: This category refers to spitting only. How well can this rapper rap? How well do they ride the beat? Do they switch up their cadence? Approach various production differently? Biggie Smalls was born to rap. He sounds at home over basically any beat you ever heard him on, making it all sound completely effortless and natural. While I don’t think Biggie was an elite lyricist, his rapping and songwriter abilities more than made up for it, as he made everything sound amazing. A+

Voice: To me, this is one of the least important categories when it comes to rap, as anyone that actually makes it in hip-hop usually at least has a capable voice. However, it is worth mentioning as not all voices are created equal. Biggie’s voice is instantly recognizable and perfectly suited for his style. I wouldn’t say his voice is exceptional, but it didn’t need to be. B+

Replay Value: What kind of listening experience does the artist offer? Can you listen to their music repeatedly? Does it hold up 5 years later? 20 years later? I still listen to Biggie’s catalog regularly and it holds up incredibly well – it is truly timeless. A+

Features: How well did the artist do as a guest appearance on someone else’s song? Were they highly sought after? Are they frequently the highlight of someone else’s song? Unfortunately, Biggie’s short career means that his list of guest appearances is also relatively small. Still, whenever featured on a song, Biggie was unquestionably the highlight of the track, demolishing guest verses on Puff Daddy’s “Victory” and “Young G’s,” and Da Brat’s “Da B Side,” and his back-and-forth with Jay-Z on “Brooklyn’s Finest” brings a tear to the eye when you think about what The Commission might have been. B.I.G. also had a number of solid R&B features. B

Discography:

Ready To Die (1994) – 10/10 (Masterpiece)

Life After Death (1997) – There’s a classic album in here somewhere. At 24 tracks, I think there are some notable weak points like “Nasty Boy,” “Playa Hater,” etc., but even Biggie’s filler is somewhat enjoyable. Life After Death is like a super-sized version of Ready To Die, once again weaving effortlessly between grimy street tales and radio-friendly hits. I feel like B.I.G. really stepped up his storytelling skills on this album and his flow on “Hypnotize” is nothing short of amazing.
9.5/10 (Potential Classic/Classic)

Born Again (1997) – Full disclosure: I only listened to the first ten songs when I revisited this album. I just can’t get into it. Biggie’s biggest strengths were his songwriting and rapping abilities and when you take random verses and try to paste it over a random beat to create a song he never intended to make, well, those particular strengths go absent and you get a subpar and forced product like Born Again. Of the 10 tracks I listened to, only “Dead Wrong,” which featured a fantastic verse from Eminem, was truly memorable. Since B.I.G. wasn’t involved with this project, I won’t hold it against him and I won’t rate it either.

Duets – The Final Chapter (2005) – Jesus. When they start titling your posthumous albums like a horror movie franchise, you know your name is being tarnished. I seriously listened to Eminem’s crappy verse on the first song and just turned this off. This was released 8 years after Biggie’s death and is littered with guest appearances and has absolutely no impact on his place in hip-hop history.

Classic Albums: 1.75
Current Status: Deceased, March 9th, 1997
All-Time Status: Top 7