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Rewind That: Lil Cease On Biggie's Unreleased Pre 'Ready To Die' Material

Collaborations with Wu-Tang and more.

New York Daily News Archive // Getty Images

The year, 1994. The album, Ready to Die.

Before the release of his debut album, The Notorious B.I.G. experienced an unforeseen roadblock. After having signed to Uptown Records by ambitious mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs, off the strength of a demo tape helmed by Mister Cee and DJ 50 Grand, the young and hungry MC out of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn quickly started work on his debut album. Originally set to be called Teflon Don, the early stages of this album yielded grimy, swashbuckling material like "Ready To Die," "Things Done Changed," "The What" and "Gimme The Loot." Among these records, a much higher-pitched B.I.G. can be heard rhyming cold, harrowing content that engineer "Prince" Charles Alexander once described as “a scream from the ghetto."

But as the early stages of the album recording process picked up, Puff was fired from Uptown Records, leaving Biggie and his rap star aspirations in shambles. Within a short time, and before the stress led to unrest, Puff shopped around and later inked a deal with Clive Davis' Arista Records, which bought Bad Boy Records for almost $2 million. This transition restarted the making of, what was eventually renamed, Ready to Die, starting up part two of the recording process.

As history would have it, on September 13, 1994, Ready to Die arrived, launching the Bad Boy empire and cementing The Notorious B.I.G. as the rap's "untouchable, uncrushable." But what's relatively unknown is the status of the records that got lost during the contractual limbo caused by the Uptown departure. Here, Lil Cease reveals some of those records, including collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan, as well as one with the late, great Ol' Dirty Bastard.

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