It has now been 21 years since The Notorious B.I.G was taken away from us all. With Hip-Hop being the voice of the youth and a culture that is honest not that old, many Hip-Hop fans might not even be 21 years old. Hell, Biggie wasn’t even 25 years old when he passed away. But as the old cliche goes his music lives on, even to generations who may not have been here to hear a new joint from BIG while he was living. Anyone would be hard pressed to find an artist that did more with only two albums. No matter what type of Hip-Hop fan you are we all have our favorite Biggie joint. But Biggie was one of the most skilled storytelling emcees that the genre had ever seen as well. Right there with the likes of Slick Rick, Scarface, Ghostface, Nas, etc. So we thought it would be only right to countdown the Top 10 Storytelling Joints from Biggie in honor of his GREAT legacy.
10) Suicidal Thoughts
To kill yourself on the last song of an album entitled “Ready To Die” is fitting. Biggie did it in a storytelling fashion. On the phone with Puff Daddy who was trying to talk him out it Biggie was giving his friend Puff a run down of the things that he had done and why he should no longer be here on earth with the living. While telling pieces of stories throughout this bit of an outro BIG’s conversation with Puffy because a story within itself. It was a bit of a story within a story.
09) You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)
This track is the last track on the last album that Biggie ever made. We don’t know if it was the last song Biggie ever recorded or not but it sounds like it. Such an eerie track all the way down to the production. For this to be the last song on an album entitled “Life After Death” I guess one would anticipate that. On this record Biggie isn’t in full story mode throughout it’s just a few stories sprinkled in the mix. But the last verse is one of B.I.G’s most memorable stories and the irony is that the story is about not being remembered at all. Ya know dark skin Jermaine who pushed the champagne range who swore he put the “G” in game that was silly enough to wear suede in the rain? Yeah, the one about him.
08) Sky’s The Limit
“Sky’s The Limit” is the song I always point to as the shining example of Biggie’s growth from “Ready To Die” to “Life After Death”. As an artist and lyricist Biggie was growing at an accelerated rate. That’s one of the things that makes his sophomore effort so impressive. BIG’s debut album was the biggest thing in a stacked year of albums of 1994 and yet he was still hungry and still ready to prove he could do better. But this hunger wasn’t about returning to your old ways it was about growing and this song shows how he was able to do that. As great as “Ready To Die” is I personally don’t believe Biggie was in the head space to tell a reflective story about growing up in the way he did on “Sky’s The Limit”. “Juicy” is the closest to that but “Juicy” is still raw. This record was done with a level of maturity and sophistication that I don’t believe Biggie had on “Ready To Die”
07) Gimme The Loot
We have went from one of Biggie’s most sophisticated sounds to possibly his rawest. But that’s just how much range Biggie had as a storyteller. “Gimme The Loot” is RAW. For you new Biggie followers this song is about getting the money in any was possible even if it means robbing and stealing. This story is different because Biggie did something that we never got the opportunity to hear much more of and that’s flip his voice into another person. He did it on “Warning” for a second when he was on the phone but this was throughout the whole song. He was going back and forth with an individual that was a bad influence but that influence was him. No need for a cameo.
06) Me And My B*tch
This one is a bit of a love story of sorts, a “Hood Love Story” for lack of a better term. In young Biggie’s viewpoint the term bitch was a sign of endearment and a testament to the woman that he loves so dearly. This song is about their journey and how she’s always there for him no matter what and sticks by his side no matter what the cost. Biggie views his relationship with his woman in this song as an intimate partnership, he even expressed that he hopes the two die together.
05) Somebody’s Gotta Die
The song that opens up Biggie’s epic sophomore effort. So it’s only right that the opener is epic as well. “Somebody’s Gotta Die” is a cinematic tale of what ultimately leads to a shootout at sundown. This song seemed like it was about to be the beginning of a lane of Biggie making movies with his music. At this point Bad Boy wasn’t just producing Biggie they were scoring his cinematic vision as well. You feel like you’re in the movies theater watching this whole thing play out while listening to this song. I can taste the popcorn now.
I think we all have heard this song so much that it has almost become a standard in the Hip-Hop culture. When you go out every weekend you’re going to hear this song. I think we repeat the words so much that we aren’t even listening to the song for it’s artistic value anymore. But striping all that away “Juicy” is not just a song you can groove and have a good time to. I think “Juicy” is the one song on “Ready To Die” that actually allowed us to know who Christopher Wallace as a person is. This is a rags to riches story being told while it’s happening. Biggie clearly saw life changing and it put him in reminiscing mode without going too deep so we were still allowed to have a good time with the song.
The best Biggie storytelling joint that actually had a music video and they did a fantastic job with the video. Personally my favorite Biggie video. You find yourself just sitting there watching and following the video. Who knows, Biggie may have had a future in acting because his anger while he was talking on the phone looked real. Now whenever I see that it’s 5:46 no matter if it’s morning or evening this classic jam pops in my head.
02) I Got A Story To Tell
Probably the least serious story that Biggie told in song but one of the most descriptive. This song shows the personality of Biggie and what a character he was. Unlike many rappers he didn’t seem to take himself super serious. Biggie was down to crack a joke with you and even make fun of himself from time to time. This story gives you insight into all that. It was rumored for years that The Knicks player who’s girl Biggie was creepin with while he was in Utah playing against the Jazz in this song was John Starks. Starks has denied such claims and in Starks’ defense he was 6’5 not 6’6. But Biggie didn’t sound so sure if the player was 6’6 or not. But that right there is what kept everyone guessing. Fat Joe recently told ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” crew that the player who’s being talked about in the song is the late Knicks forward Anthony Mason. Either way great song, and the fact that people are still talking about it 20 years later just lets you know how amazing it is.
01) N****s Bleed
Not only is “Niggas Bleed” the best storytelling song from Biggie but I would argue that it is one of the best storytelling Hip-Hop songs of all-time. Extremely detailed song with the cinematic feel that “Somebody’s Gotta Die” gives you except that it is lyrically much better. Biggie was totally tapped in on this one and if I could ever see a music video for a Biggie song that didn’t have a music video this would be the one I wanted to see. This song is a movie. Just listen and let Biggie tell you the story himself.