Monday, March 05, 2007

build me up buttercup: a review that turned into an essay about a biggie smalls record

Notorious BIG
"Greatest Hits"
(Bad Boy/Warner)

It still amazes me that ten years after its release, whenever I hear the Herb Alpert sample blazing over the first few bars of "Hypnotize," I still get excited and I commence rapping along to the late, great Notorious BIG's impeccable rhyme style.

I was in New York the week that "Life After Death" dropped and you couldn't go anywhere without hearing "Hypnotize" and "Mo Money Mo Problems." Simultaneously, "All About the Benjamins" had been circulating and a few mixtapes I bought at the time contained some version of the song, though it was months before it would see an official release. All of these memories beg the question, is Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. The Notorious BIG) still relevant a decade after his last real album?

The answer, in short, is yes. As many other people have pointed out, Hip-Hop sucks. There's no light at the end of the tunnel, either. In the last year, the Hip-Hop records that I've enjoyed can be counted on one hand, and many of the records that I did end up buying were old releases that I had either lost or forgotten about. Hip-Hop is today what pop-punk was after Blink-182 blew the fuck up, it's sad, convoluted, boring, trite and just really shitty. With that said, I'm sure that there are many longtime Hip-Hop fans like myself who would applaud the release of a Notorious BIG greatest hits package. The thing is, the guy only had two records and most of us own them.

Biggie's "Greatest Hits" is a predictable release. All the singles are in place, as are the rerecorded classics ("Want That Old Thing Back" is essentially a cover of "One More Chance" with Ja Rule) and a well-known b-side ("I Shot Ya," which appeared on the TWO reissues of "Ready to Die").

I would recommend this collection only for the purpose of nostalgia; however, in this iTunes-ruled universe, it's not that hard to import "Ready to Die" and "Life After Death" and cherry pick your favorite Biggie songs to create your own greatest hits.

While "Hits" does heavily rely on Biggie's two albums, there are also tracks from 1999's "Born Again" and 2005's "Duets," two ill-fated posthemous albums that sloppily pieced together unused Biggie raps with contemporary artists that Wallace probably wouldn't have worked with otherwise.

I'm actually surprised that Diddy didn't try to include some of the better remixes that surfaced as singles, such as Jermaine Durpi's club-friendly (and up-tempo) remix of "Big Poppa," the Pete Rock version of "Juicy" or even Da Brat-assisted duet, "Da B-Side." A DVD also would've been cool, too.

But there's none of that. Just a bunch of songs that -- while we love to death -- have been played a million times since 1997. At the end of the day, it just seems like another slap-dashed attempt by Diddy to make money off of Notorious BIG's leftovers and once again sullying the man's legacy.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home