Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G aka Biggie Smalls will go down in history as one of the best rappers of all time and he only released two albums during his life. He was gunned down much too early in 1997 but those two classics were enough for people to remember him as the brilliant artist that he truly was. Maybe he would have fallen off later in his career like so many other musicians but we’ll never know and the legacy he left behind is still enough to inspire a new generation of rap fans 13 years after his death. To make this list I had to cut out some songs obviously or else this article would just read one line, buy both albums and listen to them on repeat. So I got the two albums (Ready to Die and Life After Death) down to nineteen songs total and even threw in Party and Bullshit to complete the twenty (also three other songs where Biggie was a featured artist). I don’t know if this list is complete and will satisfy everyone but what list of greats ever does? My advice if you are just discovering Biggie is to start by listening to some of these on YouTube and then get your ass to the record store and buy these masterpieces of hip hop music. You may also enjoy Nas Best Songsand41 Best Jay-Z Songs
Gimme the Loot- Biggie raps as two characters, himself and his friend that is newly released from prison. They now pair up as a team of robbers and rap through their adventures as stick up artists. The lyrics in this song can be funny but a few are pretty sick like the one about give me the baby ring and the number one mom pendant. Regardless of the content the song is great.
Machine Gun Funk- So you wanna be hardcore? With your hat to the back talking about the gats in your raps. This song has a pretty simple beat and repetitive hook but the sparse sounds fits with Biggie’s voice perfectly. It samples a few groups for the instrumental including Parliament.
Warning- Warning deals with having people plotting to rob you because of your success. Biggie is playing two roles on this song again with his alternate voice made to sound like he is talking through the telephone explaining to Big who is going to try and rob him and why. Most of the second verse talks about all the things the robbers heard Biggie has including Lexus’, Rolexes, and the house that he bought his mom.
One More Chance- It starts out with a minute of phone calls to B.I.G. from various women disappointed that their relationship with him isn’t going how they want it to. Biggie’s flow on this track is great and it’s another minimalist beat but the song just sounds very smooth. The remix was also a pretty popular song and if memory serves me correctly that came out in 1995.
Juicy- This is one of the best rap songs ever and even non-rap fans know this song and enjoy it. The beat is a sample of Juicy Fruit by Mtume and Biggie’s lyrics are all about the struggle to be successful from his childhood to when he was selling crack on the corner. This is the song the propelled him into the spotlight and once everyone heard the rest of Ready to Die it was clear that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Everyday Struggle- I don’t wanna live no more… Everyday Struggle is one of those songs that is great to listen to when things aren’t going right in your life or your just having a tough time. He raps about struggling for money, fearing death, and just the despair he feels everyday he wakes up. A good remix of this song is the mash-up with Frank Sinatra check it out on YouTube.
Big Poppa- Another hit song that was more about the ladies and not the usual selling drugs or paranoia. It samples Between the Sheets by the Isley Brothers and is one of the smoothest rap songs you’ll ever hear.
Suicidal Thoughts- This is just an ill concept song. At the start you hear Puffy’s voice answering a phone call from Biggie asking what is wrong with him and why is he calling so late at night. Afterwords Biggie just goes into a verbal suicide note listing all of his problems and how he can’t stand dealing with them anymore and it ends with him shooting himself with Puff screaming in horror.
Who Shot Ya- The release of this song coincided with Tupac getting shot the first time while in New York and made people start to talk about whether the song was about Tupac. It’s sad to look back on the beef because both of them were friends once but I doubt that the song is anything beyond a mere coincidence. Anyways, this is a great track from B.I.G. with a rather slow tempo but still has a menacing force in it with his lyrics.
Hypnotize- I’ll always remember this song for the over the top music video with the speed boats and bouncing ball lyrics flashing across the screen during the hook. I guess why their broke and you’re so paid.
Kick in the Door- The introduction to the song is a talk show with the Mad Rapper as the guest explaining why he hates the Notorious B.I.G. and all of the success he is having. The beat finally drops and it is heavy and menacing then Biggie spits his infamous line… Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns as I crush so called Willies, Thugs, and Rapper Dons. Subliminal shots at some of your favorite rappers?
Mo Money, Mo Problems- I hesitated putting this song on the list because Big only spits one verse and the first two are occupied by Puffy and Ma$e. But it was such a huge hit that everybody knows and raps along to when Biggie comes on that I had to put it on the list. I mean if a decade has passed and a DJ can still throw this on and people are into it then it should be amongst his best songs.
Notorious Thugs- This is a great song with Bone Thugs N Harmony with a fantastic beat. Biggies flow is usually more methodical and laid back but on this one he matches his guests and tears up the track with a pretty frantic sounding verse. My only complaint is that it takes forever to get into the song.
Going Back to Cali- You have to think that this was his way of making peace with the west coast, All I have is beef with those that violate me… you really get the sense that he didn’t want any trouble with anybody and just wanted to enjoy his success even in California which was then considered enemy territory. Unfortunately, LA was where his life would end shortly after completing this Life After Death album.
Ten Crack Commandments- It’s a short song but it packs a powerful punch. Biggie lays out his rules for a successful venture in the crack game and does so over one of my favorite beats ever.
Sky is the Limit ft. 112- I love this song because it goes a bit deeper into his life than other songs and 112 is fantastic on the hook.
You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)- Listening to this track is rather haunting it just exudes a certain feeling of death and nihilism and his voice on the hook followed by Puff saying I don’t wanna die, God tell me why can give you chills.
What’s Beef- Very slow and deliberate rapping on this song asking the question what beef is. Beef is the nonsense that got two of the greats killed.
Miss U- Another song featuring 112 on the hook and this one deals with the deaths of friends and the emptiness it leaves within your life. Great rapping and beautiful singing.
Party and Bullshit- This song was on the Who’s the Man? Soundtrack and is one of my favorite Biggie tracks. He raps about going to parties and still having to deal with haters and the problems his friends get into with other people. Ultimately he just wants to have a good time and hook up with women.
Other great Biggie songs