B.I.G. P.O.P.P.A.

Notorious B.I.G. to hip-hop is like Ella Fitzgerald to jazz. What do I mean by that? They both were versatile artists. While Ella could improvise with scatting, Biggie could freestyle on the spot with spelling (“Cause G-E-D, wasn’t B-I-G / I got P-A-I-D, that’s why my mom hates me”). In addition, they both had an incredible rhythmic sense, which allowed them to ride up-tempo beats as effortless as breathing. Besides his extraordinary technical skill, Biggie was also a gifted lyricist, and his debut Ready to Die showcases both. On the savory “Juicy,” Biggie pushes simple but astonishing rhymes over the flavorful beat produced by Jean “Poke” Oliver; and the single landed Biggie on the forth front of mainstream hip-hop. In jazz, the call-and-response effects usually existed when two voices (vocals or instruments) interact with one another. On “Give Me the Loot,” Biggie created an exhilarating dialect of a sticking-up scene by alternating his flows and vocals. When it comes to the ladies, Biggie wasn’t bashful either. On “Me and My Bitch,” he confesses in the first two lines, “When I met you I admit my first thoughts was to trick / You look so good, huh, I suck on your daddy’s dick.” The song, however, takes a shocking turn at the end. Ready to Die opens with a baby being born and closes out with “Suicidal Thoughts.” Biggie starts off with, “When I die, fuck it I wanna go to hell / Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell,” then he pulls the trigger on himself at the end of the verse. The album just leaves listeners hanging in the cold while the image lingers on even after the CD stops reading.