25 years ago on March 9, 1997, the world lost one of the most prolific personalities to ever touch a mic when Brooklyn rap icon The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in a still-unsolved drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California.
In the two-and-a-half decades since his tragic demise, Biggie’s legacy has grown exponentially bigger then his famous moniker suggests. With plans for a yearlong 25th anniversary celebration that will also commemorate his would-be 50th birthday already in the works, it appears that, much like the words he spit on Life After Death deep cut “Nasty Boy,” B.I.G.’s memory will continue to go “on and on and on and…”
Speaking of deep cuts, Biggie definitely had a handful of classics in his catalog that rival even some of his biggest hit singles.
In a surprisingly short amount of time, spanning from 1992 up until his death in 1997, the man born Christopher Wallace in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy released two full-length albums and helped spearhead the debut releases for rap collective Junior M.A.F.I.A. and his female protegeé Lil Kim. He achieved major chart success through these releases, ranging from #1 rap singles like “Big Poppa” and the Stay with Me Remix for “One More Chance” to his back-to-back #1 Hot 100 hits with “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” respectively.
With all that said, many of the reasons why B.I.G. is still considered to be one of the greatest rappers ever — his former partner in rhyme Diddy even says “OF ALL TIME” — can easily be credited to the album cuts, B-sides and unreleased songs that’ve only seen the light on mixtapes or via leaks.
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From the Who’s the Man? Soundtrack. Although it was technically his debut single, “Party and Bullshit” failed to chart on Billboard and instead became his first street classic.
From the very beginning, Biggie possessed an originality that made his voice immediately recognizable. On a track from fellow late rap icon Heavy D where BIG shares the mic with Gang Starr, 3rd Eye, Busta Rhymes and Rob-O, there’s no denying who stands out the most.
Before making his solo debut, Biggie dropped an impressive verse in his first official appearance on wax with this remix by reggae sensation Super Cat off his 1992 album Don Dada.
While a remixed version appears officially on BIG’s 1999 posthumous album Born Again, this unreleased version from 1993 is the clear superior.
It wasn’t always rough and tough when it came to Biggie’s bars, which he proved on this top 40 dance hit by Swedish trip-hop sensation Neneh Cherry.
Biggie’s metaphors are pure perfection on this NBA-inspired banger, and it only makes us wish he lived longer to make it to the new era of rap gamers.
This unreleased classic only proves what could’ve been if 2Pac and Biggie remained friends and never let outside forces turn them into enemies.
Many of Biggie’s earlier verses were borrowed on later remixes that became more well-known, so this one may sound a bit familiar.
It’s amazing how well Biggie was able to play with others on a track, especially so early in his career amongst proven icons in the game.
The title says it all!
As vulgar as the title and lyrical content would suggest, you can’t deny that both BIG and R.A. the Rugged Man worked up some metaphorical talent for this one.
Coming together for One Million Strong, a 1995 compilation album to support the Million Man March, BIG and Pac prove yet again how much more powerful they were together.
Rickey Smiley‘s very own Da Brat traded bars with Biggie on the 1995 Bad Boys soundtrack, and the result is too fire for us not to include on this list.
On one of the earliest examples of the famous posse cut, Biggie linked with Coolio, Doodlebug of Digable Planets, Big Mike, Buckshot, Redman, Ill Al Skratch, Heltah Skeltah, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Busta Rhymes, Menace Clan and Jamal for this album cut off the Panther soundtrack from 1995. Even amongst fellow heavyweights, BIG held his own effortlessly.
Even though he’s only heard on the chorus, it’s quite a memorable few lines that easily gets caught in your head.
Many people still aren’t aware that the King of Pop and the King Of New York Rap have an actual song together that appears on MJ’s epic two-disc classic HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I,. R.I.P to both of these legends.
Everybody who knows better will attest to the hold Funkmaster Flex had on the mixtape game in the ’90s. On this classic off his The Mix Tape, Vol. II, Bad Boy’s finest showed and proved without question.
Knowing how much influence BIG had on Kim — professionally, personally and even intimately — it’s hard not to hear him all throughout her debut LP Hard Core. His contributions on the chorus of this fan-favorite track prove they were musical soulmates.
Although he raps on this track “no friends,” Biggie proved himself wrong time and time again given how many people he worked so well with in his short-yet-impactful career.
On one of his more explicit features, Biggie made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to tackle any subject…especially when it came to sex.
Even though Shaquille O’Neal’s rap career wasn’t anywhere as successful as his NBA career, Biggie gave him some validity with this rarely-heard lyrical assault.
The hits just didn’t stop when it came to Bad Boy — can’t stop, won’t stop!
Jay-Z has proclaimed time and time again how influential Biggie was in shaping his current reign in the rap game, and early collabs like this show how much great music these two would’ve made together.
On one of his final collaborations recorded before his death, Biggie made sure he went out on a high note with this unforgettable feature.
Although this epic live duet first appeared on Funkmaster Flex and Big Kap’s collaborative 1999 LP The Tunnel, the actual recording took place years prior and was always considered a classic on the streets.
Category: Urban EntertainmentTags: 25th anniversary, App Feed, Arts & Entertainment, Biggie, Celebrity News, Christopher Wallace, Death Anniversary, Deep Cuts, Music, Newsletter, Recording Artists, Staff Picks, Syndicated Content, The Notorious B.I.G.