Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die was released on Sept. 13, 1994 – Check out our favorite deep cuts

BiggieRelease Date: September 13, 1994

Credits: A small army of writ­­ers and producers headed up by Biggie and Sean “Puffy” Combs, including Easy Mo Bee, Method Man and Larry Dobson

 Backstory: By the early 1990s, rap, which had begun as a largely East Coast phenomenon, had been swept West by Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, and the rise of the Compton gangsta style. That all changed when 22-year-old, Oreo-eatin’, pickle-juice drinkin’ Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., released perhaps the best hip-hop debut of all time. The album, a drawly, cinematic walk through the streets of Biggie’s life in Brooklyn, made him a household name — and also marked the rise of newcomer producer Puffy, and sampled everyone from Curtis Mayfield to the Sugar Hill Gang.

Beauty and Brains: “I love it when they call me Big Poppa,” Biggie rapped on one of the biggest hits of the album. He was an unlikely sex symbol, though, as his wife Faith Evans would later recall, Puffy knew that status was inevitable for him. He was also a pile of contradictions — “a straight-A student and a drug dealer, a romantic and a player,” as Alan Light later described in Complex — who was raised by his strong Jamaican mother, giving him depth that many other artists of the time lacked. “Funny thing was that he hadn’t actually read that much,” Puffy later said. “But he used words that I had to look up in the dictionary.”

Birth of Bad Boy: Puffy and Biggie met when his mixtape landed in the hands of the Uptown Records A&R man. The Harlem label had been the home of rap in New York in the late 1980s, but it would soon face decline — shortly after Biggie was signed, label president Andre Harrell fired Puffy, and the future super-producer took Biggie and rapper Craig Mack with him. Ready to Die was the second release from the new label, Bad Boy Entertainment, which would go on to put out other classics from Mase, Faith Evans and Janelle Monáe.

SiriusXM’s Favorite Deep Cuts:

The What

“Biggie had so much respect for Method Man. That’s why he was the only feature on entire album. The trade-off between Biggie and Meth was amazing.” – Ed Lover, Backspin (Ch. 43)

“How B.I.G. came together with Method Man (both at the height of their careers) and that fact that Method Man was the only featured artist on the album said a lot about the respect they had for each other as MCs.  The grittiness of Easy Mo Bee production was the perfect backdrop.” – Ron Mills, Shade45 (Ch. 45); SiriusXM FLY (Ch. 47)


“Biggie’s flow on this track was impeccable — one of my overall favorite from him.”

Ed Lover, Backspin (Ch. 43)

Suicidal Thoughts

“This Lord Finesse-produced track was one I always forwarded to — I had the cassette. It was eerie being that he spoke of suicide and death. When he passed, it seemed like he knew it was going to happen.  The album begins with birth and closes with death.  He gave us his life in this LP, he was the voice of New York!” – Ron Mills, Shade45 (Ch. 45); SiriusXM FLY (Ch. 47)

Gimme The Loot

“Loved the fact that for that time in hip-hop, the story records were being overlooked, and Biggie brought it back with the split-personality verses. The production was tight, too.” – Lord Sear, Shade 45 (Ch. 45: All Out Show)

One More Chance

“The remix was the mainstream hit, but the album cut was a more street, harder hip-hop record. The intro was funny plus the story was on point.” – Lord Sear, Shade 45 (Ch. 45: All Out Show)

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