Sunday, January 11, 2009

Top Five Notorious B.I.G. Songs

In honor of Notorious hitting theaters this Friday, and just because I happen to think the Notorious B.I.G may have been the second coming of Christ, I thought I'd go ahead and list my top five songs by the big man himself. If you're a Biggie fan, feel free to discuss, and if you're not, these are five great ones to start on. So here we go.

5. You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You
Favorite Lyric-You can be the shit, flash the fattest five, have the biggest dick, but when your shell get hit, you ain't worth spit, just a memory.

One thing Biggie never does is let you down. When he gets a good beat, he absolutely destroys it (in a good way, of course). This song is no different. It's funny, the lyrics highlight human mortality and how fleeting life and power are, yet the title implies one's inability to achieve true greatness and immortality until after death. Clairvoyant much?

4. Ready to Die
Favorite Lyric-My shit is deep, deeper than my grave G, I'm ready to die and nobody can save me.

Was this guy a prophet or what? One of Biggie's more personal songs, Ready to Die features Biggie rapping over a straight gangster beat while Puff Daddy slowly kills him in the background. It was a tough decision picking a favorite lyric, since "My life is played out like a jheri curl" might be one of the best rap lines I've ever heard. A must listen.

3. Hypnotize
Favorite Lyric-Face it, not guilty, that's how I stay filthy, richer than Richie, till you n****s come and get me.

I was driving with a friend of mine a few years ago and this song came on the radio. We both kind of paused for a moment and then agreed that you just don't hear rap songs like this one any more. It may be one of Big's more famous songs, but that doesn't take away from how fantastic it is. If you think about it, the song is almost entirely just Biggie rapping over a drum and base beat. And yet, his voice is enough to fill the track and make it one of the most intense, fullest rap singles ever released. Also, he gives D.C. a shout out. Love it.

2. Things Done Changed
Favorite Lyric-If I wasn't in the rap game Id probably have a key knee deep in the crack game. Because the streets is a short stop, either you re slingin' crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.

I just love this song. Like all of Biggie's records, it's so real, so guttural, and, unlike a lot of his songs, it's a plea for an end to gang violence, and to a return to the old days of "summertime cookouts." At the same time, the song acknowledges that things will never be the way they used to be again. Something about when Biggie says the words "Believe me," just forces me to stop what I'm doing and listen to the rest of this song every time I hear it.

1. Juicy
Favorite Lyric [tie]-Now honeys play me close like butter played toast, from the Mississippi down to the east coast. / It was all a dream!

From the second the first line of this song hits-"It was all a dream," it is nothing but pure hip hop bliss from start to finish. It's not too grand an assumption to say this is very possibly the best rap song ever recorded. It's Big's mission statement, his past, his present, and his future, all rolled into one. It's almost impossible for me to hear this song and not stand up and sing along.

And if you don't know, now you know...



Jacob said...

Hey Daniel,

You hit some good ones, no doubt. "Juicy" is definitely a good contender for the number one spot-- when he comes on and says "It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine," it's like, bam, you're right there in with him. The fleetingness of life tends to be a big theme throughout Biggie's work as if he senses his early death waiting just beyond the meridian of his vision, and though "Juicy" is an uplifting track, still present is that notion that wherever he is, on the corner or on the stage, it is only a passing station on the way to demise.

Good call with "Things Done Changed" too-- you named the lyric that a lot of people seize onto in that track, and it definitely is one of the most lucid social commentaries in hip-hop. But the part I feel the most in that track is "Instead of a mac-10 he tried scappin/Slugs in his back and that's what the fuck happened."

A couple of my own favorites:

- The remix to "One More Chance," which plays an interesting counterpart to the male-ego fantasy of the original track. "Heart throb never, black and ugly as ever, still I stay coochied down to my socks."

- "Gimme the Loot," one of B.I.G.'s most acrobatic performances. "Big up, big up/It's a stick up, stick up/and I'm shootin niggas quick if you hiccup." Dude loves to talk about the hiccups for some reason.

- "The What" Dig the badass chorus. "Fuck the world, don't ask me for shit/Everything you get ya gotta work haaaard for it"

- But perhaps my favorite performance of all is not even on a B.I.G. record, but rather on "Brooklyn's Finest" on Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, when the king and the heir face down. "Hit ya, back split ya/Fuck fist fights and lame scuffles/Pillow case to your face make the shell muffle/Shoot your daughter in the calf muscle/Fuck a tussle/Nickel plated/Sprinkle coke on the floor, make it drug related."

Jacob M.

Daniel said...

good calls. I think my favorite line from "The What" is probably Bitches I like em brainless,
Guns I like em stainless steel.
And "Gimme the Loot" is a classic as well, as well as being maybe his most violent song.

i'll have to check out that jay-z one though, that's one i haven't heard. thanks for the recommendation, man. hope all is well in the big easy.


Max Nova said...

Get reasonable doubt! Dead Prez 2 and 22 twos are two of the all time rap tunes.

Jacob said...

Oh, and let us not forget:

"All I want is bitches, big booty bitches..."

Wyatt said...

Gimme the loot:
From the beretta, puttin all the holes in yo sweata, the money-getta, mothafuckas don't have betta
Rolex watches and colorful swatches, i'm diggin pockets, mothafuckas can't stop it!

The whole gimme the loot flow is just amazing. violent, offensive, and 100% fucked up, but completely and totally amazing too.