Ready to Die – Notorious B.I.G.

Released on September 13, 1994 and is a semi-autobiographical account of his crime days. It peaked at #15 on the charts. His lyrics are critically praised for unique storytelling. After his death the album charted again and eventually went 6x Platinum. This album is on almost every “Best of…” list you can think of.

Jason: People LOOOOOOOVE The Notorious B.I.G.

Brad: They do and I’m slightly afraid to say…I think he’s just meh.

Jason: There are about 2 maybe 3 tolerable songs on this album.

Brad: I always liked his big singles but listening to a full album is a bit much. This album feels so long!

Jason: Soooo long. I liked “Big Poppa” of course because it’s nostalgic but that’s about it. Also, “Respect” is pretty decent. But what I realized is I don’t care about him I just really like his samples and the production on some of the songs.

Brad: I appreciate that he is telling his story on this album but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that. Maybe that is the point?

Jason: This album is 72 minutes long and the intro “skit” feels about an hour of it.

Brad: I listened to this 5 or 6 times but skipped that intro skit after the 3rd time. 

Jason: I skipped it after the first time. I was tempted to skip it midway through the first time. One thing I don’t need to hear is someone giving birth for 5 minutes.

Brad: Yeah, I agree. I don’t enjoy the sex skit either. My biggest revelation was that RuPaul gets mentioned in the lyrics of the misogynistic bonus track “Just Playing (Dreams)”. He raps “I’ll fuck RuPaul before I fuck them ugly ass X-scape bitches”

Jason: That’s a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one. It’s somehow both misogynistic and homophobic at the same time.

Brad: Yeah, on one hand I was thinking “Good for RuPaul to be mentioned in a rap song in 1994 and still be around today” but also thinking “That was a horrible dis on RuPaul and X-scape”

Jason: This is one of those rap albums that I would listen to an instrumental album of. It’s not terrible and I “enjoyed” it the more I listened to it but I am not going to queue it up on a playlist anytime soon.

Brad: Personally, all I want or need from Biggie would be a greatest hits EP. I don’t feel like my life was improved by finally listening to a full album of his music. 

Jason: I agree. He only has two studio albums so that Greatest Hits would be short. Who killed him, by the way?

Brad: I don’t think his murder has ever been solved. 

Jason: I think it was Toni Braxton.

Brad: Don’t start those rumors. He died so young and it is really sad that he died just a couple weeks before his 2nd album came out. But also it is so strange that his entire career seemed to be about death. Such a self-fulfilling prophecy

Jason: Meh. By the way, why do they still scramble words on the explicit version?

Brad: I noticed that too but I have no idea.

Jason:I am listening to this again as we are typing and there are a couple of songs that I am liking more than before. “Juicy” is pretty good. And also, his sound (the songs themselves) are very 90s but they don’t sound too dated.

Brad: “Juicy” was the first single off this album. That one is pretty good. 

Jason: “Big Poppa” was played by every suburban white kid in college that year. 

Brad: I still hear it quite a bit. My favorite Biggie song is “Hypnotize” but that is on his 2nd album. 

Jason: Oh yeah, that is a good song. I don’t know if he (or producer Puff Daddy) picked amazing samples or if some of these are original melodies? 

Brad: There are a lot of samples but the production is pretty great. By the way, this is another rap album that includes a sample of “Impeach The President” by the Honey Drippers. It is sampled on the song “Unbelievable”.

Jason: Oh yes, what was the Album we had last year on this list that also sampled that song?

Brad: That song gets sampled A LOT but I think it was Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album.

Jason: By the way, I should point out that The Honey Drippers and The Honeydrippers are two different bands. The former (two words) is the American soul band with the “Impeach the President” song. The latter (one word) is a British rock band with Robert Plant and they sang “Sea of Love”.

Brad: Both of them are great in very different ways. 

Jason: And both probably get sampled a lot. So Bradley Bradley Bradley anything else to say about Biggie Biggie Biggie?

Brad: I’m sure his fans are probably pretty happy that he will be inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year (along with your favorite Depeche Mode!) but I’m not sure how I feel about him getting in so soon after being eligible. It seems like LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul deserve it more and have been around longer.

Jason: Well, I’m sure you could write a 10,000 word essay on how annoying the Rock & Roll Hall of fame committee is. What letter grade are you giving Ready to Die?

Brad: I’m giving this a C. I probably won’t ever listen to this entire album again.

Jason: I went back and forth on this. I really like the production of it and the sound and I wasn’t looking forward to listening to it but it exceeded my expectations, as low as they were. So I am going with a C+.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.