I have long been a proponent of the idea that the Notorious B.I.G. is the best rapper of all-time. (This after having long been a proponent of the idea that Rakim was the best rapper of all-time. I have been proponentizing for a long time. I am very, very old.) But I am starting to consider a different idea. Is Andre 3000 the best rapper of all-time? I think he might be! The body of work he amassed with his partner Big Boi across the six OutKast albums that came out between 1994 and 2006 already made for a strong case—Andre expanded the breadth of rap-lyric subject matter with [...]
This video is what the best MC ever to pick up a mic looked and sounded like when he was 17. Seventeen! Brooklyn's Biggie Smalls was born forty years ago today. Ego Trip has ten rarer videos up to mark the occasion. But this one always blows my mind when I watch it. The way he carried himself, his posture, his enunciation, the control he had of that booming voice—he knew how great he was already.
"A few weeks after the issue was on the stands the phone woke me up at home on a Sunday morning with news that Biggie had been killed. I guess everyone remembers where they were when they found out. I turned on MTV, and watched the news coverage as his words—the ones about wanting to move past controversies, live a slower life, and show the world how he’d grown as a person—were repeatedly quoted from the story. It was all so surreal and senseless. I’ll never profess to have known Christopher Wallace, I just interviewed him for a magazine. But I think what I wrote captures things he felt [...]
Fans of Dr. Dre or Erykah Badu will recognize the slinky guitar riff from the young Mississippian rapper Big Krit's latest (it's a sample from Soul Mann and the Brothers' cover of "Bumpy's Lament" from Isaac Hayes' soundtrack to Shaft.) But to me the coolest thing about this song is the perspective: Krit rhymes in the persona of a pot-smoking, X-box-playing, Cribs-watching loser. One who has dreams of glory and riches like we're used to, but one who, at the end of the song, is clearly not going anywhere good. And pretty harshly called out for it. There's a lot of Notorious B.I.G. here. In an impressive way.
“Rap culture is interesting and different and has purpose, but it has a nonromantic view of life and of social feelings. There may be a void in that.” —Hal David, who wrote "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and about a million other songs you know whether you want to or not with his partner Burt Bacharach, had a pretty clear-eyed take on hip-hop. (Though I would argue that rap's antiromance goes towards its interestingness and differentness. And that, as much as it may signal a void, it has done us a service in counterbalancing, even just a little bit, the vast preponderance of overly romantic, "breakup-and-makeup" love [...]
“Wardell ‘Poochie’ Fouse was paid to kill Biggie. At the time, he was a 36-year old member of the Mob Piru Bloods. According to several Death Row insiders and FBI informants, Poochie was a down-for-the-cause, hardcore gang member. Confidential sources from the Death Row entourage, the Mob Pirus, and [Suge’s girlfriend, identified in Kading's book by the alias "Theresa Swann"], said Poochie had done shootings for Suge in the past. Reggie Wright Jr.—who was the head of Death Row security—said Suge and Poochie’s relationship was different than other members of the gang. They had a very secretive and exclusive relationship. [Suge’s girlfriend] and Poochie agreed to terms. He received [...]
The things you learn from Twitter. I signed on to Twitter two weeks ago. (Because you're supposed to now?) And so far it seems mostly like a way for me to write stuff in public which I will feel stupid about ten minutes after writing. I don't really know whether to go the "Hey, read this important news article" route, or the "I like green Tabasco sauce better than red Tabasco sauce" route. (Judging from the importance of the information in this post so far, I should probably stick with Tabasco.) But you do learn interesting stuff from Twitter. It is, if nothing else, a very fast-flowing stream of [...]
This is how it should be more often. One of the great things about rap music is how quickly it can take a piece of pop culture and interpolate it into hip-hop. The ease with which a hit song (in this case, Fun's "Tonight") can be sampled, looped up, and rhymed over, it's why rap is the most immediate—and sure, lots of times ephemeral and disposable—vehicle for artistic commentary on the times we live in. This was how 50 Cent rose to prominence ten years ago, a steady stream of roughed-up music, quickly made, often using pop songs or other rap songs that were on the [...]
I love everything about this new song and video from the Mississippian rapper Big Krit. I love the echoes of Biggie's "Juicy," and of Aretha's "Daydreaming." I love Krit rhyming into the handle of a mop on the stage in the auditorium of the high school he's janitoring at. I love that terrific soul sample—I wish I knew what it is, but I don't. Big Krit is one of the rappers currently on the cover of XXL's annual "Freshman Class" issue. Here he is rhyming over the classic breakbeat from Billy Squier's "Big Beat," with fellow freshman Meek Mill and Fred Da Godson in an [...]
Here is a new song from Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli, produced by his long-time partner DJ Hi-Tek. (The two often record as a duo called Reflection Eternal.) It's really good. And so is the video, which was directed by Nim the Dream and looks a bit like one of those old "Cube" print ads painter Mike Thompson did for Marc Ecko. And it makes a nice addition to the list of rap songs that can serve as music history lessons.
Biggie's Oeuvre (Including the Junior M.A.F.I.A. Album 'Conspiracy,' But Excluding 'Duets') In Order
56. Biggie 55. Hope You Niggas Sleep 54. Playa Hater 53. Another 52. Last Day 51. Can I Get Witcha 50. Nasty Boy 49. B.I.G (Interlude)