Saturday, March 10, 2007

10 Years Later

March 9, 2007 was the 10 year anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.'s death. Just like when the 10th anniversary of 2Pac's death came around last fall, it's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since Biggie's death. It's also incredibly sad to think that in 10 years no one has been charged with anything surrounding the murder of Christopher Wallace (just as no one has been charged in the murder of Tupac Shakur).

You usually don't forget the day you found out about an event like this and 10 years later, I haven't. It was Sunday morning and I was asleep. My dad came by my open door and woke me up. He told me “Biggie got shot.” I said “What?” and then my dad told me that Biggie was dead.

On the 10th anniversary of his death, my mom asked me to pull out my Biggie CDs so we could honor his memory. We listened to most of Ready To Die before my dad and sister came home. With the TV muted, we finished Ready To Die and got through about half of disc 1 of Life After Death before moving onto other things.

In listening to Ready To Die and Life After Death right after each other, I noticed how different each album was. Sure, I knew that Biggie's style changed after Ready To Die, but it's jarring to hear how animated and urgent he sounded on Ready To Die immediately followed by how calm and calculating he sounded on the darker tracks of Life After Death. You rarely see such a dramatic change between albums in hip-hop anymore. The only real difference between, say, Ludacris's last two albums is his subject matter. With Ready To Die and Life After Death, Biggie really made two distinct albums in sound right down to the way he actually rapped.

While I'm reluctant to call Biggie the greatest rapper of all time (in part because I am reluctant to call anything “the greatest of all time”), I do think he was one of the greatest. Even though he died way too young, that early death solidified his greatness. The only two albums he ever finished are both classics. He never had to make a comeback. He never released a garbage album. However, there is no question that I'd rather have a living Biggie making music than a Biggie who, because of his death, stays forever great.

So, grab your copies of Ready To Die and Life After Death (or even Born Again or Duets) and celebrate one of the greatest to ever do it.

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