19 Songs, 1 Hour 14 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ready to Die became a canonical album not only because Biggie does it all, but because he does it all with fearsome style. For all the criticism one can throw at Sean Combs, he was instrumental in making Big much more than just another potent New York MC. For the hip-hop purists, Puff and Big made sure to include “Unbelievable,” “Respect,” and “Gimme the Loot,” tracks that are as raw as the city of New York has ever unleashed. Puff’s production expertise expanded street raps like “Things Done Changed,” “Warning,” and “Ready to Die” into works with cinematic weight. And though Biggie’s heart was in the streets, the most impressive songs on Ready to Die might be its pop singles. In the hands of another rapper, the beats from “Juicy,” “Big Poppa” and “One More Chance” could be easily disposable, but Biggie strengthens them with his edge and presence. Of course, Biggie’s raps are the album’s lynchpin, and there isn’t a single word misplaced or poorly executed. He was the ideal blend of technique and feel, and listening to his debut is like watching Jordan handle a ball, or Ali maneuver the ring.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ready to Die became a canonical album not only because Biggie does it all, but because he does it all with fearsome style. For all the criticism one can throw at Sean Combs, he was instrumental in making Big much more than just another potent New York MC. For the hip-hop purists, Puff and Big made sure to include “Unbelievable,” “Respect,” and “Gimme the Loot,” tracks that are as raw as the city of New York has ever unleashed. Puff’s production expertise expanded street raps like “Things Done Changed,” “Warning,” and “Ready to Die” into works with cinematic weight. And though Biggie’s heart was in the streets, the most impressive songs on Ready to Die might be its pop singles. In the hands of another rapper, the beats from “Juicy,” “Big Poppa” and “One More Chance” could be easily disposable, but Biggie strengthens them with his edge and presence. Of course, Biggie’s raps are the album’s lynchpin, and there isn’t a single word misplaced or poorly executed. He was the ideal blend of technique and feel, and listening to his debut is like watching Jordan handle a ball, or Ali maneuver the ring.

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