On March 9th, hip-hop mourns the day it lost The Notorious BIG, the greatest rapper of all time. When I took this photo yesterday of the original Ready to Die album cover, I knew I had to thank Biggie (in spirit) for giving me timeless music to play as a DJ. It’s because of this man that I have so many stories to tell, at least about deejaying his songs in my 13 years of spinning.
When Christopher Wallace was gunned down, I had a heavy heart like everyone in Brooklyn whose life his music touched. Through Biggie Smalls’ words, he painted the brightest and darkest pictures of life and death, respectively. On “Who Shot Ya?” the image was so clear that he left out just the right amount of detail for you to wonder who he could be on the receiving end of his lyrical warpath. BIG set the bar high for other rappers to follow, who would later jack the beat produced by Nashiem Myrick (sampling David Porter’s “The Masquerade Is Over.” Beanie Sigel, Canibus, and recently, Troy Ave have added on more raw material. It was one of the toughest records on Hot 97 at the time that had the streets on fire. Even my man DJ Dreamer used to always recite, “I feel for you, like Chaka Khan I’m the don / Pussy when I want Rolex on the arm / You’ll die slow but calm.” Confident, crass, cool as a cucumber, these were BIG’s words. Rapping on this beat without a filter would become the prerequisite. Pretty much every rapper has done it justice. Being born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m biased as hell when it comes to BIG, that’s why you’ll notice the majority of the rappers in this list are from New York. Not saying any other MCs outside NY don’t have the grit to be mentioned. Historically since this record’s debut in 1995, NY-based MCs go off the most when a DJ queues it up. Now, without further ado, AS WE PROCEED TO GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED.