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Notorious B.I.G. - Ready To Die

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Joyner Lucas, Blac Youngsta and more share their favorite memories of ‘Ready to Die’

To help commemorate the 25th anniversary of its landmark release, REVOLT rounded up rap artists like Joyner Lucas, Blac Youngsta and more to share their favorite memories of the album.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Every musical genre has its own Holy Grail of albums that consists of projects that are hailed as the height of artistic excellence. In the realm of rap, The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die is on that short list of transformative bodies of work that every credible emcee’s debut has been measured against in some form or fashion.

Arriving after building his buzz, as well as appearances on various remixes alongside stars like Mary J. Blige and Supercat, Ready to Die was one of the major stepping stones toward a resurgence of not only east coast rap, but putting Brooklyn back on the map. The second release from Bad Boy Records, the album would turn the label into one of the premier imprints of its time with The Notorious B.I.G. at the forefront as the franchise player.

From having hit singles like “Juicy,” “Big Poppa” and “Warning” to classic deep cuts like “Gimme the Loot,” “The What” and “Suicidal Thoughts,” Ready to Die was a tour de force from beginning to end, and has only gotten better with the passage of time.

To help commemorate the 25th anniversary of its landmark release, REVOLT rounded up rap artists of all ages to share their favorite memories of listening to the project for the first time, and touch on its impact on hip hop culture. Take a look at what some stars had to say about it below.

Joyner Lucas

What do you remember about your first time hearing Ready to Die?

I remember thinking Biggie was ahead of his time.

Favorite song?

Favorite song was ‘Juicy’ because he turned a classic old school jam into a song about triumph.

Favorite beat?

Favorite beat was ‘Juicy’ because it was familiar and it was the perfect record to vent over.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

I would of chose a guest verse on ‘Suicidal Thoughts’ because he’s saying some outlandish shit and that’s what I’m all about.

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

Ready to Die is easily in my top five greatest rap albums of all time. And I think his delivery on that project shifted the culture, and became the stable and set the foundation for east coast hip hop, specifically.

Blac Youngsta

What do you remember about your first time hearing Ready to Die?

The first time I heard Ready to Die, I actually was around 11 years old. We really couldn’t listen to rap music in the house like that — moms wasn’t going for it. I listened to it at a local record store back in the day in the Black Haven area of Memphis. There was a record store called ‘Cat’s’ across from South Land Mall. It made me just want to do anything to get rich. I instantly was motivated to get the Coogi, gold jewelry, and have a plethora of women one day just like biggie had.

Favorite song?

My favorite song from Ready to Die, I would have to say was ‘Big Poppa.’ [The] song just gives you this laid back ride and boss vibe.

Favorite beat?

Favorite beat was of course ‘Big Poppa.’ The piano and synthesizers blended so perfect. I mean, the original was a classic anyway. Shout out to the legendary Isley Brothers.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

Guest verse on any track on Ready to Die would of course have to be ‘Who Shot Ya.’ That track was so gangsta and that’s of course my lane in music today. Gangsta hardcore rap.

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

I’d say it ranks top 5 albums of all time in the rap genre, easily. I feel that the album impacted the hip hop culture because it gave other artists the nuts to do beats like ‘Juicy’ without feeling like a joke. The album’s versatility was hands down before its time.

Mia X

Favorite song from Ready to Die?

My favorite song is ‘Juicy.’ ‘Birthdays were the worst days/ Now we sip champagne when we thirsty/ Damn right I love the life I live ‘cause I went from negative to positive and it’s all good nicca.’ ‘Warning’ is one of my favorites because of the creativity he put into his delivery. It kept you interested in the storyline.

Favorite beat?

‘One More Chance (Remix)’ is one of my favorite beats.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

It would have probably been ‘Gimme the Loot.’ For the opportunity to go back and forth and trade bars, while staying [on] subject.

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

He is truly missed. This is a classic album.

Problem

What do you remember about your first time hearing Ready to Die?

I was at the Avalon Swap meet, I’m [from] Compton. My Asian partner was playing it loud as fuck from behind the counter. I asked, ‘What is that?’ He said, ‘Biggie.’ He played the intro and that was it. I gave him my $12.99 plus tax and my life changed after that.

Favorite song?

‘Gimmie The Loot,’ ‘Warning,’ ‘Suicidal Thoughts.’ The story telling — I felt every emotion even though I had never been through any of that stuff at that point of my life. His different vocal inflections. The darkness of it all. Amazing.

Favorite beat?

‘The What’ and ‘Me and My Bitch.’ That gritty New York break-beat style was always captivating to me. ‘Big Poppa’ because I’m a huge Isley Brothers fan, ‘One More Chance’ remix. Straight fire.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

‘The What.’ I have to say this: Meth washed Biggie on this. I would’ve loved to add my vibe to that monumental moment.

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

It’s up there with The Chronic, Doggystyle, The Marshall Mather LP of that era. It changed music. It changed the industry’s perception of what a star is supposed to look like. Puff is a genius for seeing what he saw.

Bodega Bamz

What do you remember about your first time hearing Ready to Die?

I was real young when it first dropped. But, when I finally got to hear it in my teens, I remember how raw and uncut it felt. He sounded like an east coast Ice Cube to me.

Favorite song?

My favorite song from Ready to Die is ‘Things Done Changed.’ To me, it was a great way to kick this shit the fuck off. The beat was hard and although I’m not from Brooklyn and his era, everything he was saying, I could relate to in my era and where I’m from. But, my favorite song can change tomorrow though. That’s how great this album was and still is.

Favorite beat?

Man, there’s a lot of heat on this album. ‘Warning’ was crazy. ‘Unbelievable,’ ‘Juicy’ was crazy and is literally one of the greatest hip hop songs ever. It’s hard to have a clear cut favorite.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

‘The What.’

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

I hate to put albums in ranks because it’s really all a matter of perspective and preference. But, I think every real unbiased listener would have to put Ready to Die somewhere in a top 50 of all time.

Tragedy Khadafi

What do you remember about your first time hearing Ready to Die?

The first time I heard the album, I was impressed [with] how well it was put together. The consistency of the entire body of work was masterful. It wasn’t just a Bed-Stuyvesant perspective, it was a total cinematic soundtrack to the street for the whole New York.

Favorite song?

My favorite song on that album has to be ‘Respect.’ That song spoke directly to me and it was ill how he took you through his life stages in one song — that joint stayed on repeat. That was one of Big’s joints where I felt he was in a sense depicting my life. ‘Time to contemplate... damn where did I fail? /All the money I stacked was all the money for bail’... phenomenally raw.

Favorite beat?

For me, it’s between ‘Warning’ and ‘The What.’ By now, I had gotten used to Big balancing hood graphics over hard-edged commercially based track canvases... So, to hear him revert to that raw hard-edged sound on ‘The What’ and ‘Warning’ did it for me. He mastered the balance to the point where it was undeniable.

If you could’ve had a guest verse on any track on Ready to Die, which one would it be?

It would have to be ‘Gimme the Loot,’ though it was actually Big in alter ego form, and wasn’t a verse and or feature, per se. He made it feel as though it was really a separate person — whole other energy like he took a page from Slick Rick, the rhyme in third-person master.

Where do you think Ready to Die ranks among the greatest rap albums of all time, and how has The Notorious B.I.G. and the album impacted hip hop culture?

It ranks in my top 10 greatest albums of all time. Before that album, there weren’t too many east coast artists or albums that could, as a body of work, consistency compete with our west coast counterparts such as The Chronic or Doggystyle ..even N.W.A. for that matter. Big’s impact on the culture was profound. Movements such as my own and Wu-Tang were fly in a gritty grimy gordy sense. Big made New York street niggas get on they immaculate fly shit again and adapt a ‘playa’ type aura, while lyrically keeping dudes on they pivot with his flow and bars.

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