Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G. Hip-hop is certainly a very different beast now to what it was in Biggie’s heyday, but even 20 years on, it’s impossible to ignore or overlook the stamp he has left on not only the genre, but rap in all forms.
When Biggie was coming up, hip-hop was mired in a strange time. It had only recently made the jump out of New York and across the coast to LA. Over there, Dr Dre was popularising the new, funk-infused West Coast brand of hip-hop – G-funk – and it ended up being more popular than anything that had come before. Looking back, the fact that alongside Nas and Wu-Tang Biggie was able to pull the world’s attention back towards those classic Brooklyn beats and bars is an incredible feat.
Throughout his tragically short career Biggie was surrounded by talented collaborators, and to find his best work, you have to go a bit further beyond Ready to Die. That in mind, this week’s playlist is a compilation of my all time favourite Biggie verses. Some you’ll probably know, some might surprise you, but all of them are straight fire.