Classic Music: Antlife's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time #9 (Notorious B.I.G. "Ready to Die") (1994)


It’s tough to start because there’s so much good to say about this album. I’ll start with sayin’ that the first time I heard B.I.G., was on the Who’s The Man soundtrack on “Party & Bullsh*t”. I had always liked that joint, but didn’t really expect to hear much more from him, because he wasn’t really known at the time. After that, it was Supercat’s “Dolly My Baby” remix, and that’s when I knew that B.I.G. needed to be in the forefront of this music thing. I saw the review for Ready to Die in The Source before the album had dropped. It got 4 1/2 mics, and if you were around back then, you know this was Hip Hop’s Bible. That high of a rating meant that this album was serious! Still just a kid, one of my classmates had an older brother who had a demo version of the album, so he made me a copy on cassette (which I still have today). I was hooked immediately! Not only was B.I.G. ridiculously nice lyrically, but his narratives were so vivid, you felt like you were watching a movie. Only Cube and G Rap had really made me feel that way before. There was humor, dark themes, sadness, party joints, etc. This really was the perfect album, if there is such a thing.

The first day this album dropped, I was there with my little money to buy it. I remember spending like an hour just studying the credits alone. This is what you did back then when you felt connected to an album. I wanted to know who produced what, where it was recorded, who mixed and mastered it, everything! Immediately after hearing the actual version of the album, “Machine Gun Funk” became my favorite track. It’s still my favorite from the album, but there were so many other tracks that I played millions of times over the years since this was released. “Warning”, “Unbelievable”, “Big Poppa”, “The What”, “Me & My B*tch”, “Ready to Die”, “Everyday Struggle”, “One More Chance”, etc. The whole damn album was incredible! There really was a song for every mood on there. The production was so fitting for every track, and what we saw in B.I.G. was someone on the cusp of serious greatness. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that I’ve heard an album as impactful since. Ready to Die is a masterpiece. And one that set the standard for what every debut album should be. It really doesn’t get any more engaging than this one, and it’s an album that everyone should have in their collection, whether you’re a Hip Hop head or not.




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